There’s nothing like your first year in college. You gain freedom, friends and fun but unfortunately, you may also gain weight, which many affectionately call the “Freshman 15.” A 2009 study conducted by Utah State University found that—on average—freshmen gain about 10 pounds their first semester in college. The study concluded that sleeping late, eating unhealthy foods, drinking and lack of exercise all contribute to the weight gain. With little time, money and food choices limited to what you can forage in the dining hall, it’s tough to consistently make good health choices. With Back to School season already in full swing, BlackEnterprise.com provides some help for students to stop the Freshman 15 before it starts. Here are nutrition and fitness experts Taheerah Barney, Wendy Ida and Tracye McQuirter sharing their sage advice.
Holistic Health Coach and Wellness Counselor
Barney was raised in a household where natural food and physical activity was the norm and things like soda were considered rare and exotic treats. “My mother, she used to chase us around the house, making my brother and I take cod liver oil,” recalls Barney.
Barney says she and her brother were also encouraged to play sports to stay fit. But those healthy habits quickly changed when she got to college and began smoking and drinking. “I was curious and it was part of the whole experience of being in college,” says Barney, who didn’t like the impact the bad habits had on her body. “I felt out of sorts not that long afterwards.”
Frequent colds and chronic fatigue pushed Barney to get back to her healthy roots after graduating. She eventually launched her own wellness business, 360 Nourishment.
For the class of 2015, Barney recommends creating good health habits now. Here are some of her tips.
Instead of having things like juice, soda and sweet tea, drink water. For water with a twist, add lemon or limes. If you do choose to drink juice, Barney says you should dilute the juice with half water. “Sugar is a huge culprit for health problems especially within the minority community,” she says. Barney also cautions against white carbohydrate like pizza, white bread and pasta, which break down to sugar.
As a freshman you will spend many late nights chatting with your roommates, crashing frat parties or cramming until the sun comes up. In all these instances you’ll also be stuffing your face. For late night snacks Barney suggests things like eggs (which are cheap and high in protein), natural jerky and healthy fats like avocados. She also suggests eating raw fruits and veggies with nut butters.
Barney recommends getting about 30 minutes of cardio each day. This doesn’t have to involve a gym, though many colleges include a membership with tuition. She suggests taking the stairs instead of the elevator, finding a free yoga class or even going out dancing with friends if it’s more fun.