Heading off to college can be an exciting time as well as a challenging one. From being thrust into independence from your parents to learning how to manage your time and new found freedoms. While most students find this liberating, many succumb to the pressures of academic life. Being homesick or scared and not knowing how to handle these emotions often leads many to find comfort in food or other indulgences.

How do you avoid the late night snack sessions, which often include junk food? It’s easy if you can focus on positive changes that can be made to avoid falling into the not-so-great temptations that college life can bring.

The Freshman 15 is, for the most part, purely fiction. While weight gain can become an issue for incoming freshmen, 15 lbs. is a bit of an exaggeration. For most freshmen, gaining weight may be inevitable. There is not a parent fixing your meals and the pizza shop seems to always be open. But it doesn’t have to be. Making a few changes may help you avoid any weight gain. Walking to class with a friend is a good start. Take a break from a study session to do a few sit-ups. Walk up the stairs instead of the elevator. All of these little steps may not help you lose weight but it can definitely keep you from going in the wrong direction if done consistently. A gradual weight gain in college, doctors say, could lead to obesity because the weight gain just continues as you move into the working world.

The stress of classes, irregular sleep and alcohol may eventually become the norm at some point for most college students. This lifestyle can take its toll. However, many universities are now starting to place calorie information on cards around dining halls, hoping to help students make smarter choices. But this is only part of the problem that is being addressed. It is not just the numbers that need to be focused on for these young adults. Getting students to see the the whole picture of health and nutrition is what is needed on campuses all over the country.

So how do college students over come this? Since most college freshmen are young and healthy it’s easy to start a good health regiment early on in your college career, you may even try starting a program before you check in to college. Start each day with breakfast. When you skip meals you deprive your body of the energy it needs to keep up with your new lifestlye. Make smarter choices at meal time. Enocurage your new friends to do some daily exercise, making it fun. Getting enough sleep and avoiding too much alcohol will go along way in keeping any potential weight gain at bay.

Try getting proactive in the effort make colleges a more health friendly atmosphere. Encourage your campus to provide nutrition classes and exercise classes to help educate the student body on a healthy way of living.

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