The dreaded Freshman Fifteen: typically an expected weight increase of up to fifteen pounds experienced during an individual’s first year in college. Posited by some is the question of whether or not this phenomenon actually exists. Unfortunately, your fears are not about to be assuaged; the freshman fifteen does indeed exist and its causes are well documented. The good news is that it can indeed be avoided by the prepared individual.
The Freshman Fifteen: The Famed Phenomenon
In anglo countries, the idea that one typically gains around fifteen pounds during their first year of college is so ubiquitous that many incoming freshman have taken to losing weight before entering college in the hopes of countering what is undoubtedly to come. While this may indeed be perceived as a solution by many, a more feasible way to avoid the freshman fifteen can be discovered by observing its causes, which consist of the following:
1. Alcohol – Of course, no college experience would be complete without the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol and engaging in general debauchery. Besides guaranteeing a good (or perhaps not-so-good) time, alcohol has many other effects on the body, specifically on the parts related to nutrition and the brain’s drive to consume food. While intoxicated, fatty and sugary foods become even more appealing than while sober, and the self-discipline one may normally possess and employ to avoid such foods is also diminished by the alcohol, resulting in a very unfortunate combination of effects.
2. Lack of Sleep – Another irremovable facet of the college experience, insomnia accompanies nearly every student, especially during their first year. Lack of sleep interferes with the hormone leptin which is responsible for controlling appetite and informing your brain as to when you are “full”. With this interference comes the tendency to overeat which, of course, leads to weight gain. Lack of sleep can also affect mood in a negative way, which has been shown to increase the tendency of individuals to eat more than they normally would when in a better mood.
3. College Food – Often times colleges offer their students a meal plan which includes a buffet-style, all-you-can-eat dining hall component. This environment, coupled with the previous two elements which affect appetite and judgment regarding food and the often-times unhealthy nature of college food, can easily lead to overeating and subsequent weight gain.
How To Avoid Gaining Weight In College
Avoiding the above-mentioned causes is the key to preventing gaining weight during the freshman or any year of college. While it is theoretically possible for one to consume copious amounts of alcohol and still maintain their weight, it is extremely difficult and more than likely particularly unhealthy. One of the most effective methods for preventing weight gain in college is to limit alcohol consumption to an amount resembling what the surgeon general would consider “moderate”.
This, in combination with attempting to maintain some semblance of a normal sleep schedule, taking the opportunity to take walks whenever possible, avoiding elevators and escalators, engaging in some form of active events, and making an effort to eat healthier foods, is undoubtedly the best defense against the Freshman Fifteen – a very real, very avoidable phenomenon.