Although called “starving students”, us university students do a pretty good job appearing well fed. We should really be giving thanks to the calorie gods for saving us all from malnutrition via the “freshman 15” phenomenon.

Those 15 extra pounds are just a precautionary measure to avoid possible undernourishment in the event that our financial constraints force us into involuntary fasting conditions. On the other hand, it might have something to do with idiotic nutritional choices some of us seem to make.

That being said, let me be clear: all weight gain is not a bad thing. Our entire body composition changes as we age and the transition from our teenage years to our twenties is no exception, where we experience a noticeable ‘filling out’ for girls and guys alike.

The freshman 15 should not be referred to as gaining 15 pounds in general, but specifically the unhealthy weight gain that comes with poor nutritional choices and an inactive lifestyle.
So although we discuss this weight gain as a dreadful thing that will force a student to only post Facebook photos of themselves strategically placed behind large objects or standing next to people who have succumbed to the freshman 45, the freshman 15 can be avoided.

The main problem with the freshman 15 is that by the time any of us notice our clothes have shrunk and our chins have multiplied, the bad habits that got us there are hard to shake. This semester, try to keep the following things in mind:

Your body’s metabolism can be compared to a fire. In order to keep this fire burning constantly and efficiently, it needs fuel. That means you need to eat every three hours, or roughly 6 small meals and/or snacks per day, to keep your metabolism from reacting the way a roller coaster does. Going too long without food stalls the burn. Amongst your 6 meals and/or snacks, try to incorporate protein and fibre. These components keep us feeling full and tide us over until the next meal.

Note: vending machines are often a poor choice. It’s not necessarily the volume of food we consume that ruins us, but often the quality of food we choose. Although cheap and simple, processed and pre-packaged foods are much more calorie-dense than their natural, fresh counterparts. Translation: you can eat a lot more of the healthy stuff and still fall within a reasonable daily caloric intake.

Lastly, you need to also beware of your drink of choice. Pop, juice and coffee are loaded with ridiculous amounts of sugar and sometimes just swapping these things for water can have fast results for your body. As well, constantly having water within reach can combat the body’s tendency to mix up hunger and thirst which is another reason to stay hydrated.

Alcohol also tends to play a major role in the freshman 15, so if you love your beer but you love your toned physique, you’d better start eating clean the rest of the week.