The dreaded Freshmen-15 is real.
Legend has it freshmen college students gain 15 pounds in their first term. Fact is, this is no legend. Going to college doesn’t just mean changing schools, it means changing lifestyles.
Chances are, you'll be less active than you were in high school. This, combined with bad dining hall food, dorm-room junk food, endless frat parties with bottomless kegs, and a slowing metabolism, inevitably leads to one thing -- weight gain.
Gaining a few pounds isn’t the only thing you need to worry about, though. Without home-cooking, you'll probably lack the necessary nutrients your body needs to thrive. On the bright side, it's possible to stay healthy in college.
By adapting the following tips to your current lifestyle, you'll can make healthy changes that aren’t so over-bearing you won’t be able to stick with them.
1. You need calcium
Consume about 1,000 mg of calcium daily. Women are at higher risk of developing osteoporosis, a disease which decreases bone density. This develops gradually with age, but adequate calcium intake reduces the risk. Bone density accumulated when you're young is all you'll have for the rest of your life, so make sure your bones are as strong as they can be. One eight-ounce glass of milk has about 300 mg, so drinking three glasses of milk a day will provide all the calcium you need. Other foods that are high in calcium include yogurt and cheese. Low-fat dairy products have as much calcium as whole-fat products.
2. You need folic acid
Folic acid is one of the B vitamins. It's important to intake 0.4 mg of folate a day, especially for women in their child-bearing years. Folate reduces birth defects by regulating DNA synthesis and cell division. It's also needed for normal red blood cell synthesis. Folic acid can be found in green, leafy vegetables, orange juice and fortified breakfast cereals.
3. Get your daily servings of fruits and vegetables
I know it seems like fresh fruits and vegetables are more expensive than other grocery store items, but they really aren't. Buy the fruits and vegetables that are on sale. Seasonal items usually cost less. Even if they do cost a little more than a bag of chips, ditch out on the junk food because fruits and vegetables are much more nutrient-dense.
4. Be active
Half an hour of moderate physical activity on most days is recommended to stay healthy. However, longer and more rigorous activities can provide greater health benefits. You're probably paying a fee to use the student recreation center, so you might as well take advantage of that. Plus, it’s a great way to meet people.
5. Lose a pound a week
One pound equals about 3,500 calories, so reduce your calories by 500 each day and, by the end of the week, you will drop a pound. However, instead of dropping 500 calories from your diet, try dropping 250 and working off the other 250 at the campus recreation center. This way you’re not starving yourself and you can get your recommended amount of activity each day.
6. Eat right in the dining hall
Keep these concepts in mind when choosing foods, whether it's in the dining hall or at home. Developing these habits now will help to continue a healthy life-style in the future.
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