photodune-760627-pizza-sGoing away to college is one of the most exciting experiences of your life. There’s a whole new world waiting for you with people to meet, professors to learn from and life lessons you couldn’t experience elsewhere. Of course, there’s one little drawback waiting for you if you’re not careful—those pesky extra pounds that creep up on you from late night pizza study sessions and all-you-can-eat cafeteria dorm food. Want to dodge the ‘freshman 15’? Here’s how to escape the freshman bulge altogether.

The Woe of the ‘15’ is About the Right Mindset

It’s a classic predicament: you’re away from home and for the first time, no one can tell you when to go to sleep, what to eat, and what not to eat. The choice is yours—from which social circle you’ll mingle with, to the classes you’ll take. But food is fuel—and everything you put in your body will affect how you feel, learn and experience. Want to be as smart and productive as possible? Fuel yourself up with good, nutritious food and you’ll not only be at the head of your class, but you’ll avoid the ‘freshman 15’, too. It’s a win/win!

Be Smart About Cafeteria Food

Where’s the most common place you’ll gain weight in college? It’s not the Burger shack or the Pizza restaurant located in the student union. It’s the cafeteria. The cafeteria has a wide selection of foods—everything from lasagna to casseroles to salads. Sure, you may not feel like skipping on desert or fried food, but dodging the ‘freshman 15’ requires it. Eat in moderation by skipping on unhealthy cafeteria food during the week. Need a sweet treat? Allow yourself something decadent on the weekend.

Don’t Eat Late Night Snacks

Eating greasy pizza or noshing on M&M’s at 1 in the morning sounds like a good idea at the time. After all, you need something to keep you studying at full steam ahead for your mid-term. However, your waistline is the one to pay the price. Eliminate the need for unhealthy foods (especially during high stress times like preparing for an upcoming exam) by thinking one step ahead.

Keep healthy snacks on hand, and make sure they are plentiful and everywhere: your dorm room, your car, your backpack. Have a jar of your favorite nut butter, fruit, veggies, crackers, cheese, nuts, deli sliced meat, and energy bars on hand.

Alcohol in EBeerxcess

Alcohol packs on pounds more quickly than anything else, which is why it’s so important to keep the drinking to a minimum. Partying is part of the college experience, and as a freshman you’re going to dive into it—but approach it in a smart manner. The empty calories of alcohol (combined with greasy, late night food) can make for a startling combination when you return home for the holidays.

Go easy on alcohol, late night munching, and all-you-can-eat cafeteria food. When you eat with a strategy in place, you’ll fuel up with foods that will allow you to continue having the best experience of your life. College is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and you don’t want unhealthy food to weigh you down. Eat right, and you won’t have to battle the ‘freshman 15’ bulge at all!