The first year of college can be a time of unwanted weight gain, fueled by too many midnight pizzas, parties where alcohol is served and overloaded schedules that cause erratic eating patterns, according to a dietitian with Weight Watchers International.
Dubbed the "Freshman 10," this tendency is particularly difficult to avoid for women and the only way to escape it and maintain a trim high school figure is to continue healthy, low-calorie eating habits started while at home.
"Leaving the nest to go to college implies independence, a time to become your own person," said registered dietitian Judy Marshel. "It's also a time to leave behind mom's home cooking." But college students are encouraged to resist sampling too many new and unfamiliar foods or going on all-out binges of favorite foods and keep nutritional meals part of their schedule of activities.
Keep a Positive Attitude
Above all, said Marshel, keep a positive attitude. "There's no need to despair. You can enjoy college life without gaining the Freshman 10," she said. "The key is to plan ahead--set realistic goals for yourself and stick with them. Don't let college friends coax you into eating things you'd rather avoid."
As an aid to college students, Marshel offers the following list of tips to prevent the frustration and depression this syndrome can create:
--Check out your choices before making a selection. Decide what looks good and is good for your figure, then make selections. When planning meals, keep in mind variety and moderation.
--Try to eat three meals a day. A good breakfast starter is fresh fruit juice or fresh fruit. Supplement with dry cereal and low-fat milk, whole-grain toast with cheese or peanut butter or a muffin without butter. Avoid the typical, high-calorie fare--bacon, eggs and home fries, pancakes and syrup, etc.
--A fresh salad is a good choice for lunch. Combine cottage cheese and fresh fruit or use the salad bar to create a chef's salad of tuna, sliced turkey breast or lean roast beef. Watch out for prepared tuna, chicken or egg salads which are often loaded with unwanted fat.
--Stick with broiled, baked or roasted poultry, meat or fish rather than fried foods for dinner. Remove the skin from chicken and ask for any gravy or sauces on the side.
--Desserts don't have to be sacrificed. Enjoy fresh fruit or plain yogurt with fruit instead of rich cakes and pies. On occasion, when a favorite dessert is served, opt for it, but return to sensible eating the following day. One portion won't hurt.
--Keep a survival kit in your room when the temptation for late-night snacking hits. Include non-fat dry milk powder, individually packaged cereal, reduced-calorie hot chocolate, sugar substitutes, small boxes of raisins, unbuttered popcorn, bread sticks and sugarless gum.
--If friends want to order something in, don't deprive yourself as long as you've planned for it. A slice of pizza can be a nutritious snack and only contains about 200 calories if you skip the extras such as sausage and pepperoni. Complement your snack with diet soda.
--Make wise choices at the vending machine. One ounce of pretzels contains about 110 calories and goes a lot further than one ounce of chocolate with 150 calories or one ounce of peanuts with 170 calories.
--Remember that no single food in and of itself is fattening. It depends on how much of it you eat or drink in relation to your total daily calorie intake. If you choose to drink an occasional beer or a couple of glasses of wine, work them into your plan for the entire day's calories. Or try alternating alcoholic beverages with non-alcoholic ones such as soda water with a twist of lemon or lime.
--Beware of munchy foods at parties and take small portions of items like potato chips, pretzels and peanuts.
--Build exercise into your daily routine. Wear sneakers to class so you can take advantage of the time between classes to take an exercise break. Find a classmate to exercise with and make it a social event. Don't eliminate exercise because of time pressures. It burns calories and gives you more energy, making late night studying that much easier.
The following are some easy-to-prepare entrees, snacks, a sauce topping and dessert that come together quickly and are in line the above guidelines for sensible campus eating. We've featured items that college kids like, but fat and calorie-wise, they've been scaled down.
The cheesecake, for example, is lower in calories than the traditional recipe, boasting about 60 fewer calories per slice. And the salsa topping, a stand in for those with a penchant for salsa dip and chips, is an ideal sauce for omeletes, broiled fish or chicken, rice, baked potatoes, beans and pasta. Or, toss it in a tuna salad for a zesty light flavor or spice up grilled cheese sandwiches by putting the salsa topping inside.
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest