Freshman 15 facts for college students

Heading off to college is an exciting time for freshmen all around. You’ll be entering a new and different environment than what you were used to in high school. This can be both a good and bad thing.

There are many ways college students can combat the Freshman 15. (Credit: LTCL)

There are many ways college students can combat the Freshman 15. (Credit: LTCL)

When I was in high school, I had a very structured, consistent schedule that I maintained. College, on the other hand, was another story. I wasn’t quite as active as I was in high school, yet I still thought I could get away with eating whatever I wanted in the buffet style dining hall in my dorm – boy, was I wrong! Here’s why I’d like to share some knowledge about what you should know about the dreaded “Freshman 15.”

Causes of the Freshman 15

If you happen to be someone who managed to avoid the Freshman 15, I congratulate you. But if you know someone that is or has experienced unhealthy weight gain while in college, you may want to try helping them. There are many causes as to why the Freshman 15 happens, and Nohel Corral shared a few in his April 16, 2012, post from Examiner.comCommon causes and solutions for beating the Freshman 15.”

  • Unhealthy eating habits: Trying to balance classes, homework and projects often leads students to place certain priorities over others. All too often proper nutrition gets left by the wayside.
  • Poor food choices/selection: College campuses aren’t always the healthiest; you tend to see more greasy Chinese food, burgers or pizza in campus dining halls.
  • Laziness: If college students aren’t getting any regular physical activity, the Freshman 15 is bound to happen, especially when you’re spending most of your time sitting in classes or in a library all day.

Why are first-year students more vulnerable?

The changes in lifestyle that freshmen experience are beyond what they may have anticipated. They have constant, easy access to junk foods, and without parent supervision, they’re on their own to make choices for themselves – welcome to becoming an adult! In “Expert Q&A: Avoiding the Freshman 15” by Denise Mann of, Connie Diekman, Med, RD, LD, FADA, had a lot to say on the topic: “They have to learn to choose both what and when to eat for themselves and they are also going to a schedule where no one tells them what to do, so they may forget to exercise.”

The good news is that not all hope is lost. As college students move through their college years, they develop a schedule that works best for them and can control what they put into their bodies. They also realize what types of physical activity they should participate in to maintain a healthy weight.

The solution

Let’s just say you happen to gain some weight during your freshman year. What should you do about it if you want your old figure back? Diana Rodriguez of Everyday Health shared her tips in “The Truth About the Freshman 15.”

  • Don’t skip meals: Wake up early enough to allow yourself enough time for a healthy breakfast; if you leave your dorm starving, you’re more bound to go for junk food later and eat more than you need.
  • Be prepared with better snacks: Your alarm didn’t go off! You have to be across campus for class in 20 minutes so you definitely don’t have time for breakfast – and you certainly should not skip class. Be sure to keep healthy snacks in your dorm that you can grab on-the-go such as fruit, almonds or granola bars.
  • Order healthier pizza: If you’re anything like me, you wish you could eat pizza for just about every meal. I don’t believe in depriving myself of my favorite food so I highly recommend this option: go for a veggie pizza or get one that’s cheese-less (your lactose intolerant friends will appreciate this too!).
  • Practice moderation: When feeling stressed, many people turn to food. It’s very important to remember to limit yourself and be aware of portion control in order to make healthier choices.

What are some other ways you recommend to avoid the Freshman 15? Let us know in the comments.

1 reply
  1. Scarlet says:

    To me Freshman 15 is just a myth. Probably somewhere in the past it wasn’t but I’m pretty sure now it is since lots of students are crazy about healthy life style – they go to dancing classes, do sport or yoga or just go for a morning walk or run. Besides, to gain those legendary 15lb one has to do nothing except sitting around and eating. Here is a study saying it’s impossible. Of course I do not argue that freshman students do not gain weight. Of course they can, especially when they have to study a lot and do not have much time for a walk or healthy dinner. Still, healthy dinner can be always ordered instead of those fast foods. Still, once I was writing an essay on diets and came across interesting information – we should focus more on our brain and less on a diet. This means we should build our will power, understand our habits and needs and try change those that harm us. We shouldn’t make ourselves go on a diet because we want to fit into a nice new dress but we should think that healthy foods will prolong our lives – they should become our habits not a one time thing!


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