Avoiding the Freshman 15

by Lisa Maselli, MScFN, RD
Freshman 15

Besides the challenges university students face in the classroom, sometimes the more daunting tasks await them after class. Instead of opting for the infamous instant ramen, try some of these quick and simple ideas to choose and create healthier meals and snacks!

For starters, what is the point of eating well?

It is important to maintain healthy eating habits (or start them) while you are in university to:

  • maintain your weight
  • have more energy for studying, socializing and physical activities
  • get better sleep
  • have a better immune system which may help to avoid colds that easily spread on campus
  • gain healthy eating habits that you can maintain for the rest of your life!

Watch your portion sizes

Larger meals are not always the better “bang for your buck”, especially when it comes to your health. Aim for ½ a plate for vegetables and fruit, ¼ plate for protein such as meat or fish, and ¼ for grains such as pasta and rice. Keep in mind the size of your plate and if you go for seconds. Don’t forget to consume milk or milk alternatives each day to continue growing strong bones and teeth!

Stay hydrated

Choose water, milk or soy beverages more often. Energy drinks, pop, and coffee with sugar and/or cream should be chosen less often, if not at all. Try freshly squeezed lemon or orange into the water if you don’t enjoy drinking it plain water.
Be aware that the caffeine in energy drinks might help you stay awake but other medicinal ingredients usually have no scientifically proven effects. Energy drinks are often higher in calories and more expensive.

Make time for meals

Have breakfast (even if you wake up late) to start your day off with energy to fuel your brain! Do not be too busy eat meals. Use your cellphone alarm to schedule breaks if you must! Eating regularly will also prevent you from choosing unhealthy snacks or indulging in late night pizza.

Carry healthy snacks

Make the healthy choice the easy choice by having healthy snacks readily available for you to grab on your way out the door:

  • Fresh fruit or dried fruit such as cranberries, dates, and raisins
  • Raw vegetables like sliced carrots, cucumbers, celery, cherry tomatoes and peppers
  • Trail mix – with more nuts and seeds than chocolate
  • Whole grain crackers with your favourite nut-butter
  • Low-fat string cheese or yogurt
  • Store water bottles in your freezer to put in your bag when you need to keep food cold

Ultimately, university is a time to grow, learn, and have new experiences. Try different foods or prepare your favourites in new ways. Make healthy choices most of the time to help you feel great and enjoy this exciting new stage of your life!

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