The freshman 15

William Evans

The freshman 15 has been said to follow freshmen into their first year of college, when many students reportedly experience weight gain due to a shift in their eating habits. To avoid bringing the unwanted luggage back home for the summer, incoming students can take advantage of resources the University offers to curb weight gain.

Freshmen can use their mandatory meal plans to their advantage by being mindful of the vegetarian and low-fat options offered in the all-you-can-eat dining halls spread across campus.

“Bama Dining has introduced multiple low-fat and healthy options this fall, including our brand new Fresh 2 Go line that emphasizes gourmet sandwiches, salads, wraps and healthy snacks,” said Kelsey Faust, marketing programs manager for Bama Dining, in an emailed statement. “In each of our meal plan locations we have whole stations dedicated to vegetarian options.”

For students mindful of their caloric intake, calorie-counters and nutritional information are posted beside each food item in the dining halls.

Also, the Rec Center offers group exercise programs such as yoga and indoor cycling Sunday through Friday.

Healthy eating habits can go a long way in deterring weight gain for students who are having to develop their own eating routines for the first time, according to Sheena Quizon, a dietitian at the Student Health Center.

“When students transition from high school, where they typically had set meal times and regular physical activity, to an environment where many restaurants are open late at night and there is less time available for exercise, students often gain weight,” Quizon said. “A student may come from an environment where meals were at set times and prepared for them to now having to decide what to eat, how much to eat, and find time to eat.”

Preparing a schedule for what and when to eat can help prevent unhealthy eating habits.

“Students are best able to manage their weight when they have found a balance between calories in and calories out,” she said. “Making a game plan at the beginning of the week of snacks to have on hand while they are out and about on campus can help them from overeating on higher calorie items that may contribute to weight gain.”

Students should also be attentive to how stress is affecting their eating habits.

“When we are stressed in any sort of way it can definitely affect how our body and hormones metabolize food, but stress can most importantly affect how much food and what kinds of food we eat—typically high calorie—which then provides a greater possibility of weight gain,” she said.

Even in college, breakfast is important.

“A common problem that happens with a lot of college students resulting in weight gain is skipping meals such as breakfast and lunch, which then attributes to overeating later in the evening,” she said.

Matthew Bailey, a senior majoring in political science, said he gained 15 pounds during his freshman year.

“I was working out more and eating more than I did in high school,” he said.

He said the all-you-can-eat dining halls can be a culprit behind weight gain since students can indulge their appetite at nearly any time of the day instead of eating at designated times planned by parents.

“The cafeterias being open for longer than your kitchen would be at home is not conducive to being the healthiest student,” he said.