How to prevent the "freshman 15" - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

How to prevent the "freshman 15"


College students can gain the "freshman 15" when they go away to school.

Dieticians said it's caused by a number of reasons, but they're working to keep that added weight at bay.

They said the 15 pound number might be a little exaggerated in recent years, saying now students have healthier eating options, and better workout facilities that it's more like the freshman five.

"I try to eat apples instead of like chips or something for snacks," said Southeast Missouri State Freshman Andrea Schollmeyer.

Not every college student is as healthy as Schollmeyer.

"I get up at like 5 and I go to the REC and work out," said Schollmeyer.

Some students can pack on the pounds when they go to college.

Brandon Pickens said at first, he found it difficult to eat healthy.

"You got so many people around that they eat like unhealthy food, and it's like hey you want to go grab some McDonald's, and it's like yes, it's cheap," said Pickens. "Sometimes the food on campus they don't like it, and they're just like argh let's just go eat McDonald's."

But he said football changed his outlook on eating.

"The main important thing is make sure your body is right, nutrition is a good thing as far as being in your sport," said Pickens.

Both students said there's constant food temptation in college.

"There's a lot of unhealthy choices, they always have french fries, and hamburgers, and I see a lot of people go for those," said Schollmeyer.

"They eat a lot of junk food, McDonald's, Popeye's, anything they can grab really fast," said Pickens. "Because some people are kind of lazy when it comes to cooking, they don't want to sit and wait, they're just hungry right then and there, so they decide to go grab some McDonald's or burger king as fast as they can."

Registered Dietitian Laura Vollink said students can have problems with the new college food freedom of an all you can eat buffet.

"Obviously the all you can eat buffet style, you're moms not cooking you your meal anymore, you have a lot more freedom than you did at home"

"It's hard cause instead of your parents making you food, you get to choose it yourself," said Schollmeyer.

Vollink said students are probably less active in college as high school.

"I know some kids that played a lot of sports in high school that don't run or so whatever they used to," said Schollmeyer.

"You may not be playing your high school sport anymore, you may not be having that gym class, you know you're walking to class, but are you doing much more than that?" said Vollink.

Vollink said they work to help provide students with healthy options.

"We offer a steamed vegetable every day, steamed rice, we have three hand fruits available meaning apples, oranges, pears," said Vollink.

"I eat a lot of baked foods, no fried foods, I drink a lot of water," said Pickens.

Vollink said they also keep students healthy with moves behind the scenes.

"Students don't really know what we're doing to try to make them healthier, but we're using the low sodium canned tomato products, we're using the low fat dairy, we're offering more whole grains, we have more fresh frozen fruits and vegetables so, trying to make them healthier without them realizing it," said Vollink.

She said they use icons on the food items to show students different healthy food choices.

"We also have a balanced icon, if a student sees this icon they automatically know it's going to be a better food for them, we set nutrient limits on these such as calories, fat, saturated fat, sodium, so they know it's going to be a better choice," said Vollink.

She said they feature foods each month. September is energy and power month.

"We're focusing on nutrient dense foods that give you the most bang for your buck, the longer lasting energy, help you get through that first couple weeks of the semester, you got the social schedule, you've got the new classes, that you're used to laying back in the summer, so getting those foods that will give you that extra energy, these are also the same foods that also prevent heart disease, prevent cancer and other chronic disease, so it's kind of a 2 in 1 type deal," said Vollink.

All moves to try to keep the "freshman 15" at bay, and help all students make healthy choices like Schollmeyer and Pickens.

Southeast Health Dietician Raina Childers said there's some habits students can use to keep off the weight.

"Don't give up some of the basics learned at home, for example, eating breakfast," said Childers. "It can be a busy schedule, 8 o'clock classes, late nights, and so you're much more likely to skip that breakfast meal, and that can kind of set you up to eat more later on."

And she said students should keep healthy snacks in their dorm room and backpacks.

"Having some options in their dorm room or where they might be studying is a good idea because it will keep them from venturing out to vending machines or late night runs," said Childers.

She said even a little weight gain here and there can easily add up.

"You can set up to gain slowly, you gain five your first year, you gain two more, then you gain five, and so it can slowly accumulate," said Childers.

And she said students should be wary of the effects of alcohol.

"There's also alcohol that can come into play, even for these freshman who aren't supposed to drink, the reality is that it does happen, but that's extra calories, and also decreases inhibitions, and decision making when it even comes to food, so they have this surplus of calories from whatever source, then they have this decrease of activity," said Childers.

Childers also provided some healthy suggestions below.


Healthy Snack Ideas for the College Student on the Go

• ½ a peanut butter/nut butter sandwich on whole grain bread

• String cheese and piece of fruit

• Low calorie pudding cup and 6 graham cracker sections

• Low calorie vanilla pudding cup with ½ cup mandarin oranges packed in juice

• 1 cup of homemade trail mix (whole grain cereal, nuts, dried fruit, mini pretzels)

• 2 triangles of laughing cow cheese and whole grain crackers

• Meal bar with at least 10 grams of protein

• 2 ounces low fat deli meat with whole grain crackers or pretzels

• 6 inch whole grain tortilla with ½ a banana slices and 2 TB peanut butter/nut butter

• Mini rice cakes and salsa

• ¼ cup of nuts and dried apricots

• 2 Fig Newtons and 8 ounces of skim/soy milk

• ¼ cup of nuts and a V8 fruit/vegetable drink

• 1 cup baby carrots and 1 ounce of natural cheese

• 3 cups of low fat popcorn

• 1 cup of grapes and 6 ounces fat free Greek yogurt

• 2 Tablespoons of hummus and veggies or whole grain crackers


Tips for Eating Healthy in the Dorm Room

1. The Refrigerator is a great way to keep healthy options at your fingertips in the dorm. It allows you to stock up on a variety of foods and maintain them at safe temperatures.

2. The college student's real secret weapon when it comes to dorm room dining is the clothes iron. Yes, it's true: this commonplace household appliance can turn out splendid grilled cheese sandwiches and quesadillas, often in less time than it takes to heat a skillet or griddle. Caution: keep a layer of heavy duty aluminum foil between the iron, the food, and the surface you're ironing on. Ever try to pick melted cheese out of an iron? It's not pretty.

• Heat iron to cotton or linen setting. Turn off steam.

• On your work surface, place a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil large enough to accommodate bread or tortilla. Place bread or tortilla on foil and top with desired filling. Cover with remaining slice of bread or tortilla. Cover sandwich or quesadilla with another sheet of aluminum foil. Fold foil to seal edges and make a packet.

• Press iron on surface of foil-covered packet, passing iron over entire area for about 30 seconds. Carefully turn entire packet over and iron again for about 30 seconds, taking care not to tear the foil. Unwrap an edge and check for doneness. If contents are not hot or cheese is not melted, rewrap the foil and repeat the ironing step.

3. The microwave is handy for putting together tasty, healthy and inexpensive meals as well as popping up some corn for study times.

How to cook scrambled eggs in the microwave:

• Crack eggs into a microwave-safe bowl. Add milk or water and beat well with a fork.

• Cover with plastic wrap and microwave at 70 percent power for 1 1/2 minutes. If eggs are not cooked to desired doneness, continue cooking in 20 second intervals, until done.

• Season with salt and pepper.

4. The blender- you don't need a big blender to get big taste and nutrition! Perfect for breakfast smoothies or after exercise snacks. There are many single serve models available.


Healthy Foods to always keep in the House!

„X Olive oil and Canola oil

„X Garlic-chopped, minced and bottled works well

„X Vinegars- balsamic, white wine, red wine, rice wine

„X Canned meat- tuna, salmon (without bones), chicken breast

„X Canned or bottled tomato products- paste, sauce and pasta sauces without meat and cheese in them

„X Canned soup with vegetables and beans- low sodium versions

„X Low sodium, low fat cream soups

„X Salsa

„X Nuts

„X Natural nut butters or soy butter

„X Quick cook brown rice or long grain rice

„X Whole wheat pastas

„X Whole wheat tortillas/pita bread

„X Whole grain cereals and oats

„X Whole grain crackers

„X Refrigerator pastas

„X Pre-cooked, refrigerated or frozen chicken breast

„X Bagged, triple washed spinach or lettuces

„X Healthy Frozen Entrees- Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones, etc.

„X Fresh fruit and vegetables

„X Reduced fat dairy products, milk, yogurt and cheeses

„X Dried fruit

„X Meal Bars that contain around 200 calories and 10 grams protein

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