Published July 21st, 2010
Passing the College "Health Test" - About that "Freshman Fifteen"
By Dr. Theresa Tsingis, DCMS
Dr. Theresa Tsingis, DCMS specializes in functional medicine, a branch of nutrition focused on prevention, medical research and therapeutic lifestyle change. Her practice, Lamorinda Nutrition, is located at 251 Lafayette Circle, Lafayette CA. Tel. 925.283.Well -or-
Nature gave men two ends - one to sit on and one to think with. Ever since then, success or failure has depended on the one he used most." George R. Kirkpatrick

In our nutrition clinic patients often disclose they gained weight in college after leaving home. Apparently, along with that new life, is an exit from the halls of learning between fifteen and twenty stubborn pounds heavier. Your time becomes fraught with a busy schedule, sedentary activities like studying and writing, late hours, a job and new social situations. The pressure to excel and unfamiliarity with a new environment causes anxiety and may lead to "comfort eating." Even a fitness-oriented student can be tempted to leave exercise behind, allowing it to gradually dissipate as school workloads increase.

The "freshman 15" weight gain is not inevitable. Follow these pointers to stay healthy and energetic during your pivotal and exciting university years:

- Explore your new neighborhood - It's critical to investigate the food (and exercise) resources around you. Get organized from the beginning. Choose grocery stores you'll frequent, entering the phone numbers and hours of operation into your cell phone. It's worth finding favorite healthy foods that are nutrient-packed and calorie-light. (See below for a general list.)

- Plan to stock up once or twice a week. Keep a shopping list in your phone to save time and ensure that necessities are purchased for the week. If you live with others, take turns, use a master list and text roomies while in the store for any late additions to the list.

- Buy small plastic containers and snack-size storage bags - These items are great for packing leftovers from home or dorm.

- Eat every 3 to 4 hours - This prevents late-night overeating, which packs on the pounds. Many people unwittingly follow the "Sumo Wrestler Diet" and don't eat until evening, then gorge due to hunger and low blood sugar levels. The overload leads to excess stored bodyfat, because as I tell patients, the body doesn't "know" when you will be feeding it again!

- Cycle or walk to, and park far away from class; also work out regularly. I.e., move it! Carve time out of your schedule - might as well get used to it, because adult working life will likely have similar time constraints. Focus on the benefits - higher energy levels, sharper cognition, and improved memory for tests (translation - better grades). Break studying up into 2-3 hour slots and exercise in-between study times. Research shows that two brief (20 minute) workouts have a greater effect on fitness than one long workout. On a big study day give your mind a break while your muscles work. You can always mentally review material while energizing your body on a track or elliptical. "Don't let it be all in your head, nor all in your body". Terri Guillemets

Here are Sample

On-the-Go Snacks

- 1/4 cup nuts and dried fruit

- 1/2 cup hummus + carrots

- 2 string cheeses + an apple

- 1/2 cup guacamole + 6 chips

- Piece fruit + 1 oz. cheddar

- Cup of bean soup + 4 crackers

- Prosciutto-wrapped dates

- 1 Tbsp. Peanut butter + celery

- Turkey + cheese lettuce wrap

- 8 oz. yogurt + nuts + ground flaxseeds

- Small salad with 2 HB eggs, spicy walnuts

Best of luck to you and enjoy your new life! We're all rooting for you.

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Copyright Lamorinda Weekly, Moraga CA