Tips to keep off that ‘Freshman 15’ when going to college

While most college freshmen don’t gain the fabled “Freshman 15,” they do gain an average of about 7 pounds their first year, and then continue gaining gradually throughout their college experience. But with careful planning, they don’t have to, says a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences news release.

Fast food, late-night pizza, dining halls filled with calorie-laden foods and unlimited desserts, limited transportation to grocery stores, lack of exercise, demanding schedules and stress all contribute to this likely weight gain. Experts say it’s important to avoid the gain because poor eating habits in college can last a lifetime.

The news release says the share of people aged 12 to 19 who were obese increased from 5 percent to nearly 21 percent from 1980 to 2012, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; almost 19 percent of Kentucky’s high-school students are considered obese.

Here are some tips to keep those pounds off:

  • Keep fruits,vegetables and high-protein snacks, like nuts and yogurt, on hand for snacking.
  • Aim for at least three different food groups on your plate at each meal.
  • Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, then add the entrĂ©e.
  • Plan ahead, think about where your best food options are each day.
  • Load up on protein at each meal.
  • Invest in a lunch box that fits in your backpack for busy days.
  • Learn how to make a few simple, healthy meals.
  • Avoid eating when stressed, while studying or while watching TV
  • Eat slowly.
  • Choose lower-fat options when possible.
  • Pay attention to portion size.
  • Avoid going back for additional servings.
  • Replace empty-calorie soft drinks, alcohol, energy drinks, and high-fat, sugary coffee drinks with water. 
  • Exercise at least three days a week.
  • Sleep an average of seven to eight hours each night.
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