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Freshman 15? Gain an education, not a spare tire

Gaining 15 pounds your first year of college is not inevitable. Get an education, not a spare tire.

According to recent studies, the “freshman 15”  is probably more like 7 pounds. But more young folks are already overweight, so the caution still stands. So let’s discuss some ideas on how to avoid weight gain your first year of college.

All you can eat is not a dare
You have to learn how to choose wisely in the cafeteria. Just because you can choose two entrees and three desserts does not mean you should. The ice cream machine is there every day, but you need not visit it every day. Good old variety and moderation are your guides. Maybe limit high fat desserts to a couple of times a week. Grab fruit for a snack and make use of the salad bar.

Portable portions
The key here is to try and keep the portions small and portable. Granola bars, whole fruit and one-ounce size packets of nuts fit in your book bag and keep you going between classes. When stocking your mini fridge, follow the same pattern of portion-control. To quench your thirst, stock up on small bottles of water or juice and mini cans of Coke are great for soda lovers at just 90 calories a pop.

Sensible snacks
When in doubt, eat a vegetable. Munching on baby carrots, green peppers, whole green beans or grape tomatoes will boost your immune system due to the vitamins and antioxidants. Eat your veggies!

Read food labels
I know you are already reading a ton for your classes, but add food labels to your reading list. All packaged foods and beverages clearly state on the front how many calories are inside. Make note of that.

 You are going to be stressed and sharing germs with the thousands of kids walking the halls, so arm yourself with good nutrition. Don’t just look at calories. Choose drinks with vitamin C and snacks with protein. Make sure you get calcium and iron too.

Calories out
Weight control is what you eat (calories in) and what you burn (calories expended). Walking to class burns calories. Take the stairs to your chem lab. Go out and play -- whether that be on a team or just pick-up ball. Physicial activity will lower your stress too.

Carol Meerschaert is a registered dietitian in Paoli, PA with over 25 years of nutrition counseling experience. Carol has written over 100 magazine articles on nutrition topics. Carol has been seen in numerous TV appearances including on CNN and Ivanhoe Broadcast News.  She is a consultant for food and beverage companies including the Coca-Cola Company. Carol has been discussing these topics with her son, a freshman at Drexel.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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