Fighting the Freshman 15: How to Keep the Weight Off

Weight gain is a common reality for the college students. Here's how to stay fit mentally and physically

Tracye McQuirter, health expert and author


Tracye McQuirter
Public Health Nutrition Expert
Author of By Any Greens Necessary

McQuirter wasn’t always the vigilant vegan that she is today. “I was introduced to vegetarianism in the seventh grade,” she says. “I thought it was a crazy idea and never gave it a second thought.” But after hearing comedian and activist Dick Gregory speak about the state of health in the African-American community her sophomore year in college, McQuirter changed her lifestyle.

“He graphically traced the path of a hamburger from a cow on a factory farm, through the slaughterhouse process, to a fast food restaurant, to a clogged artery, to a heart attack” recalls McQuirter, of Gregory’s words. “I’d never heard anything like that before in my life and that stopped me cold.”

She also knows from personal experience what it’s like to pack on the weight in college. “My freshman year I gained 25 pounds instead of the 15 pounds,” she jokes. Now McQuirter has made it her life’s goal to educate others about the benefits of eating right. Here are a few tips for first-years from a first-rate nutritionista:

McQuirter says breakfast should be your largest meal of the day. “Every freshman should be eating breakfast everyday, it makes you eat less throughout the day,” she says. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should have a short-stack of pancakes every morning. McQuirter says a fruit and veggie smoothie is very filling. Her recipe consists of fresh dark greens, like kale or spinach, frozen or fresh fruit, and a little almond, rice or coconut milk with water and dates.

McQuirter isn’t talking about being eco-friendly. She says you should have veggies twice a day and they should make up one-half to one-third of your plate. “Whatever vegetable it is that they’re serving, put that on your plate twice a day,” McQuirter says. She also advises that you should have a raw salad five days a week, substituting dairy based creamy dressings with oil and vinegar.

McQuirter says whole grains like brown rice, bread and oats twice a day are a must. “Usually these days you can get brown rice in your cafeteria, they’re not just serving white rice,” she says.

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