Last Updated on January 7, 2021
Making smarter lifestyle choices in college won’t ruin the experience — we promise.
The Weight of College
The weight of college can quickly sneak up on you during the first year or what is better known as the “freshman 15.” Poor food and drink choices that are fueled by stress, a tight budget, and partying are the factors that can contribute to weight gain. Here are the more infamous freshman food traps.
When your bank account is only showing a few dollars, Ramen Noodles seem the prime choice for a meal – clocking in at just $2.00 for a box of 12. It wins for cheapness but not for it’s nutrition profile because it contains close to nothing in vitamins and has a whopping 875 milligrams of sodium. About an hour after you eat the salty soup, you’re going to want something to quench your thirst. Salt does not directly increase body fat but it will increase water retention.
Macaroni and Cheese
It’s cheap, creamy, and delicious – making it the go-to food choice when it comes to comfort food. But buying the processed version will make the scale go up in body fat and water weight. Just one serving of Kraft macaroni and cheese has 13 grams of fat and 750 milligrams of sodium.
Late Night Breakfasts
As a study break, many colleges host late night breakfasts at the dinning hall. It’s a fun social time to catch up with friends and forget about exams for a while, but piling your plate high with bacon and pancakes will induce a food coma. Instead, cut back on the portions so you can dine and unwind for an hour before going back to studying.
Five dollars for a pie is a steal on a college campus, and ordering it after a night out will squash the late night munchies. But the constant routine of a night of drinking and eating a few slices will be the causes for a beer belly. Instead, keep a few macro-friendly snacks in your dorm room to munch on.
Ordering lo mein and having it delivered to the library when you’re pulling an all-nighter is convenient but not healthy. Chinese food is another high salt item because of any potential added MSG. When you’re gearing up for a huge exam, your body is inevitably under stress – increasing your cortisol levels. High cortisol levels are a factor in why our bodies crave salty foods when we’re stressed.
Eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s or being a frequent visitor to the ice cream socials that your dorm is having is an easy way to pack on the pounds. A half a cup of ice cream is 130 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 14 grams of sugar. It’s more than likely at the ice cream socials that the servings are tripled.
Most college towns have a local wing place where one night a week is all you can eat wings for a cheap price. Consuming wings that are slathered in sauce and ranch dressing every week will only lead to an expanded waistline. Make wing night a once a month event, so that you have something to look forward to without putting yourself at risk for the “freshman 15.”
Late Night Fast Food Runs
This list has a theme: high salt foods. Making runs to the area’s fast food chains as a study break or after a night of going out will only result in an eventual weight gain. Fast food isn’t just loaded with sodium but fat and high calories as well. All of this will not only impact your weight but health also.
Filling up a cup of regular soda and going back for refills can add to the weight of college. The reason: one cup of regular soda contains 44 grams of sugar. That’s equal to about 10 teaspoons of sugar.
Beer or mixed drinks can quickly up the calories and carbs in just a matter of hours at the party. You’ll be sure to have beer belly by the time sophomore year starts. Make smarter drinking choices by cutting back on the amount that you consume and remember to alternate with water.
Grilled Cheese Thursday
Every Thursday at the dining hall at James Madison University was grilled cheese night. You had a choice of white bread or whole-wheat bread. But white or wheat didn’t matter after the third or fifth round because it was greasy and good. Weekly habits like this can quickly add on the pounds. Instead of frequenting the buffet-style dining hall every Thursday, try another place on campus to eat – one that functions off of one serving.
Football season means tailgates and that means hot dogs and hamburgers. Hot dogs are far worse than burgers because they’re made up of fat and offal remains on a butchered animal. And one hot dog contains 151 calories, 14 grams of fat, and 600 milligrams of sodium. So have you lost your appetite yet?
Buffet-Style Dinning Halls
All you can eat for $10 is a college steal. Sometimes your eyes can be bigger than your stomach after several plates of the first course and then dessert. When you’re going to this type of dining hall, pace yourself and fill up on macro-friendly foods, so that you’re not eating yourself to stomach pains.
Tip: bring plastic containers and fill them up with healthy food options like fruit or salad to get you through the week. It’s the best way to eat on a college budget.
A bag of chocolate or trail mix can easily be depleted while studying because you’re mindlessly snacking. Instead of just grabbing food while you study, take a study break to eat. Optimal study foods are foods that are rich fiber and vitamins like fruit. Also, try your best by avoiding several trips to the vending machine.
Cookie Delivery Service
When homesickness hits, a relative may send Insomnia Cookies or Campus Cookies, depending on what’s near the college town. When the cookies are delivered share them with your roommates so that you’re not eating everything.