College Planning Expert’s Tip of the Month – April

How to stay healthy in college
Say no to the Freshman 15 and stay healthy in college by being picky about your meals and snacks
By Emily Shearing Article courtesy of Next Step Magazine

Greasy foods, lack of exercise, all-nighters, alcohol. College can be a plague of all things unhealthy. But that doesn’t mean you have to see and feel the side effects of this epidemic. Here are some tips on how to avoid the dreaded freshman 15 and stay healthy all through college.

Make exercise part of your day

It’s so easy to get out of the exercise habit. Now that high school’s over, you’re not going to basketball or track practice every day like you used to.

In college, you have to make time to exercise, just like you would make time to study. And it’s easier than you think. Almost all colleges have an exercise facility that offers classes like yoga, kickboxing and spinning.

How much fun would it be to get together with a group of your dorm mates every Tuesday and Thursday for an exercise class? Once you make exercising part of your schedule, just like going to your 10:30 biology lab or 6:30 dinner, you probably won’t want to skip.

Choose smarter snacks

Too busy to have a dining hall lunch? Don’t fall into the vending machine trap. You might be tempted to pick chips or cupcakes instead of pretzels or baked chips.

Pack a healthy snack in your bag to eat between classes. Baby carrots, string cheese and fruit are all good choices. Keep a water bottle in your bag, too. Drinking water can help you differentiate between being hungry, thirsty or bored.

Be picky

Dining halls can be a black hole of unhealthy foods. Having pizza, french fries and hamburgers available every day of the week means it can be easy to make poor dining decisions. It might also be a way of rebelling against your parents. “For some students, expressing independence is eating what they want,” says Mindy Haar, interim chair and director of the didactic program in dietetics at the New York Institute of Technology (

But dining halls also have many healthy alternatives. Many have custom meal lines and salad bars. Wait the extra 10 minutes to have the chef prepare you a healthy meal, such as a fresh sandwich (try turkey breast or grilled chicken) or pasta, both with tons of veggies.

Watch out for hidden calories, though. “Most schools have salad bars, but when they have dressings with ladles, you could be adding 500 calories to your salad,” says Haar. “Go easy on the dressing or put it on the side.”

Don’t skip breakfast

If you’re running late for your first class, throw a baggie of whole grain cereal or fruit in your bag and eat it when you get to class or on the walk over.
Avoid late-night blunders

Some college cafeterias offer late-night service, with unhealthy options like mozzarella sticks and chicken fingers. Instead, keep healthy snacks in your room. If you have a mini-fridge, you can keep veggies, cheese and other choices. Low-fat microwave popcorn is also a healthy snack that’s perfect for movie night.

Avoid alcohol

Not only is underage drinking illegal, but it can also be hazardous to your brain cells and belly. “Not everyone realizes that alcohol is very calorie-dense,” Haar says. The average alcoholic drink is 100 calories.

Splurging is OK

Once a week, treat yourself to that slice of pizza or ice cream sundae you’ve been craving. “Pizza is OK, as long as it’s not half of the pie,” Haar says. You shouldn’t deprive yourself, especially when you’re working so hard to keep up your GPA.

If you stay healthy in college, not only will you feel better, but your grades might just reap the benefits, too!

~ David Mammano, College Planning Expert, Campus Calm

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