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How to Cut Calories in College and Avoid the Freshman 15

Ways to Cut Calories and Avoid the Freshman 15

Candy was my study buddy, and I ate pasta for dinner every night, so it's unsurprising that my first semester of college I ended up putting on way more than the dreaded freshman 15. Gaining weight once you hit dorm life doesn't have to be a given; you can avoid packing on the pounds and having to buy a new, larger wardrobe with these calorie-cutting tips.

  • Choose a limited meal plan: Signing up for unlimited trips to the dining hall is a meal plan option, but not the best one when you want to avoid weight gain. If you can hit the dining hall whenever you want, you'll be tempted to join your friends for a second dinner, so choose the two or three meals a day option, and eat in your dorm room the rest of the time.
  • Don't fall for the all-you-can-eat scam: It's shocking when you walk into a dining hall for the first time and see the huge spread of self-serve food to choose from. Make sure you're keeping your portions in check, and don't make a habit of going back for seconds and thirds. Having mozzarella sticks and french fries for every meal won't do your waist any favors either, so skip the high-calorie fried foods and opt for the salad bar instead.
  • Don't splurge on junk even though no one is watching you. It's liberating not to have your parents there to tell you not to eat that fourth cookie, but those calories add up just the same. Use your healthy sense, and know when to indulge and when to say no.
  • Don't keep junk food in your dorm room: If there are Ruffles and Snickers bars within your reach, you're going to eat them. Rent a minifridge and stock it with yogurt, fruits, veggies, and low fat cheese so when you're feeling snacky, you can reach for a handful of grapes instead of a fistful of chips.
  • Stay active: Whether you become a member of the school gym, play ultimate frisbee on the green, walk or bike to class, or go for runs with your roomy, keeping up with your regular exercise routine is the key to preventing weight gain.
  • When studying late, choose healthy munchies: Eight corn chips contain 150 calories while 20 baby carrots contain only 70 calories. And make sure your snack is just that, a snack, rather than a 500-calorie meal.
  • Fill up on fiber: Include whole grains, veggies, and fruits in every meal and snack. They'll keep you feeling satiated longer, which means you won't feel hungry as often.
  • Stick to water, seltzer, and tea as your beverages of choice: Sodas, juices, and even Vitamin waters are high on the calorie front, making it easy to chug hundreds of calories in minutes.
  • Eat every few hours to avoid that famished feeling. With your busy schedule, it may be tough to hit breakfast, lunch, and dinner on time, so be sure to fill up with healthy foods when you can. Don't skip meals (especially the first meal of the day) and in order to avoid temptation from fresh baked chocolate chip cookies wafting passed your nose, keep energy bars, trail mix, and fruit in your bag.
  • Don't eat just because everyone else is: Late night pizza deliveries are the definition of dorm life, but one slice of pizza adds about 300 extra calories, so if you're not hungry, pass on the late night nibbles.
  • Be smart when it comes to drinking: I know you'll laugh if I tell you not to drink (even though it's illegal for freshmen) but what I will say is to choose your alcoholic beverages wisely. Fruity cocktails are extremely high in calories so it's best to sip wine or beer. Just remember that each of those contains around 100 to 150 calories per drink, so if you're downing five or more drinks, it's easy to see why Freshman gain so much weight. Aside from the empty calories in alcohol, getting buzzed or drunk softens your sense of willpower and makes you hungry, so you're more apt to say yes to an entire plate of gravy fries.
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