The Freshman 15 Issue

Photo courtesy of Pixabay user TeroVasalainen.Photo courtesy of Pixabay user TeroVasalainen.

So it’s your freshman year of college and the nerves are kicking in. Am I going to make friends? How hard will my classes be? How do I do my laundry without turning my shirt pink? These are some of the frequently asked questions most freshman worry about.

But one of the main concerns most freshmen have is “Will I gain the daunting ‘Freshman 15?’” The Freshman 15 refers to the amount of weight often gained during the first

year of college due to a significant amount of independence mixed with unhealthy food choices.

Then there’s the cafeteria, one of the most important aspects of survival at a college. The food in the cafeteria can determine whether or not a student wants to come back, if mom needs to fatten you up when you come home, or if eating an Easy Mac for dinner is the best option. Eventually, the student will run out of Easy Mac and will have to resort to two options: eating at the cafeteria or buying food (and no, starving does not count).

Most college students will agree that going out to eat can be costly and understand that they have a budget with their money, so the cafeteria it is. A growing issue throughout the United States is obesity. Many college cafeterias, although not intentionally, promote this concept with unlimited food, access to unlimited soda, and trays of dessert. The two major issues that arise within cafeterias are providing food that is both edible and tasty and providing food that is healthy.

At McDaniel College, Englar Dining Hall offers a simple serving option at both lunch and dinner for individuals who prefer a healthier lifestyle. Unfortunately, the simple servings only provide one main protein, vegetable, and starch. Although this food can be deemed as technically healthy, eating pork butt or cauliflowers in a strange orange sauce may not seem appetizing.

But that all depends on the type of person and the food choices one makes. The options in the cafeteria are very limited.  So if the food that is deemed healthy is just not appetizing and the normal menu items do not meet the needs of the individual (type of foods they like and health conscious, to say nothing of students with dietary constraints such as vegetarians), what can we do to eat healthy and avoid the Freshman 15? Here are a few tips that I recommend:

    • Provide the cafeteria with input on what you would like to be changed. Ask the cafeteria to provide nutritional information.
    • Cut down. Try to drink as much water as possible and cut down on soda. Having a soda (or desserts) once in a while is okay to do. Its about balancing health and enjoyment.
    • Utilize the gym (or even the campus). Walk for 30 minutes. Find fun ways to exercise. It doesn’t have to be painful or boring.
    • Stock up on food in the room. Before you move in, most parents are willing to buy groceries and snacks for the room. Take advantage of this opportunity and buy foods that are both nutritional and delicious.
    • In the United States, drinking is illegal for individuals who are under 21 years of age but many college students under the legal age still drink. If you do drink (although you should try not to as this contributes to the Freshman 15) limit what you drink and be wise about your decisions – don’t mix alcohol and know what you are drinking (consider the calories, sugars, and fats in the alcohol or mix).