Nutrition know-how helps prevent ‘Freshmen 15’

Brushing up on nutrition basics can help new college freshmen avoid extra pounds while pursuing their higher education.

College students are often under stress and respond by eating, said Dr. Karen Cullen, a behavioral nutrition researcher at the USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine. What’s more, a smorgasbord of foods is available almost around the clock.


To help freshmen get a healthy start on the academic year, Cullen offers these tips:

  • Deal with stress in a positive manner, like playing or listening to music or exercising.
  •  Keep fat-calories in check by choosing low-fat cafeteria fare like grilled or baked fish and fruits and vegetables. Limit high-fat and high-sugar treats to once a day.
  •  Choose beverages wisely. Good daily choices include fat-free milk, a glass or two of fruit juice and plenty of water.
  •  Keep dorm-room snacks healthy.
  •  Make time to be physically active every day.
  • Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast. Meal-skippers rarely reduce their actual caloric tally, and often shortchange themselves nutritionally.

If weight gain begins to exceed three to five pounds, consider starting a food diary and physical activity diary to help identify problems. Many campus health centers have nutrition professionals who can help students struggling with weight problems, Cullen noted.

Get more healthy recipes from Momentum and read more posts on nutrition.

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