Starting university signals the beginning of a new life: new friends, a new ‘home’, new responsibilities. This dramatic change of lifestyle manifests itself in all sorts of ways. Some become more confident, some are happier; some become a little stressed until they settle. For others, it can present itself through a few extra pounds of body weight.
Introducing the ‘Freshman Fifteen’ – an American term used to describe the weight gained by Freshman in their first year of University. Not necessarily fifteen pounds for everybody, though sometimes it may feel like it.
Not everyone gains weight when they start uni, but some do. It’s perfectly understandable: you’re faced with cooking for the first time, meaning you can indulge in childhood favourites like potato waffles, pot noodles and takeaways without being judged. You may also feel terrified at the thought of this new duty, and opt for the easiest, quickest and most satisfying meals (which are sometimes not the healthiest). Add on top of this the copious amounts of alcohol, late nights, post-Jesters trips to Chico Land, greasy hangover cures and days spent in bed and you have yourself a nice little recipe for weight gain.
It’s true that health is not always at the top of your list for the first few months at Uni, but if you feel like you need to regain focus and lose those unwanted pounds, don’t be scared to make a few changes, even if they do seem a little obvious.
- Try and avoid emotional overeating: Homesickness, stress and even contentment can lead to too many Oreos or an overly large plate of nachos. If you feel like you’re heading towards eating too much of something, distract yourself, or swap it for something a little better for your body.
- Join the gym: Uni is the one place where you can benefit from a membership that’s slightly lower in price, so don those trainers and hit the treadmill. There are even classes and access to the pool, so if the cross trainer isn’t your thing, start doing yoga or doing a few lengths every so often.
- Cut down on the alcohol: no, it doesn’t mean becoming teetotal and missing out on nights out, but make sure that you don’t drink copious amounts on nights when you’re not hitting the bar. Take a break, your body will thank you for it!
- Get enough sleep: As well as giving you much needed rest after a heavy night at SoBar, it is proven that eight hours or more has significant health benefits. So treat yourself to an early night / long lie in.
Take a break, your body will thank you for it!
- Limit your takeaways and ready meals: These fit perfectly in with the student lifestyle but are one of the main culprits of student weight gain, and can also get expensive. So keep them for a treat, and start learning to cook. Keep your eyes skimmed for student-friendly recipes. Stir-fries, omelettes and chili are a great way to get started.
- Eat more fruit and veg: No, they don’t seem like the perfect comfort food, or a precursor to a game of ‘Ring of Fire’, but simply adding them to a curry or an apple after dinner can do wonders. Even if you tip some frozen peas and carrots into the meal, it’s better than nothing.
- Eat breakfast: Skipping breakfast can lead to weight gain, and studies have shown that it’s easier to lose weight when you eat at least three solid meals a day. So instead of chugging a coffee on your way to a lecture, grab a bowl of instant porridge, a couple of bananas or a cereal bar to get you through the morning.
Instead of chugging a coffee on your way to a lecture, grab a bowl of instant porridge, a couple of bananas or a cereal bar to get you through the morning.
- Make a healthier choice: If you’re eating on campus, don’t always go for the pizza or the fish and chips. Vary your diet by opting for a baked potato or a baguette. Maybe chose a side of salad instead of chips a few times, or pick water over Fanta. No need to cut out all your favourites, just make a few small changes.
- Have fun with food: The easiest way of eating a proper meal is to cook with your flatmates. Even if it’s a pasta bake, the likelihood is if you can’t cook, somebody can. Not only will you learn new skills, but you’ll also eat a wider variety. Someone will want to add a salad, or veggies to the meal, while others will suggest maybe having boiled potatoes because ‘we always seem to eat chips!’ Not only will you eat different things, but you’ll also learn to cook and get closer to your friends.
- Take lunch with you: Eating on campus every day, if you have a hectic timetable, can not only get expensive but can start to change your health. Make your own sandwiches one day, change to a wrap or pitta bread, and maybe even a salad once or twice. You’ll save money, waste less food and maintain a healthier diet.