Every fall, students head for college to experience the benefits of higher education. They love learning - but they loathe the love handles that often accumulate from the snacks that accompany those lessons. If you are worried about avoiding the freshman 15, the sophomore 16 and the junior "junk in the trunk" poundage, then read on for help from nutrition expert Keri Gans, author of "The Small Change Diet: 10 Steps to a Thinner, Healthier You."
What causes those excess pounds? Indulging late at night, says Keri, whether it's an "increase in alcohol intake" from parties or pizza to push through those books. But packing on the pounds isn't inevitable. Stock up on healthy swaps for junk food snacks.
"It is a good idea to have a mini fridge so you can keep some perishables, such as fruit, low-fat yogurt, string cheese or mini BabyBel, raw veggies or hummus," advises Keri.
No fridge? You can still have nuts, whole grain crackers and natural peanut butter available. She also recommends something to sweeten that studying: Healthy energy bars, such as:
- KIND bars, such as KIND Nuts & Spices Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt flavor (click for details)
- Kashi bars, such as Kashi Trail Mix Chewy Granola Bars (click to order)
- Luna bars, such as Luna Bars Lemon Zest flavor (click for details)
As for exercise: Yes, you can and should take time out from studying to sweat away the calories. "Most college campuses have a gym students can go do for free with lots of fitness classes available (i.e. yoga). I recommend finding a workout buddy that they could go to gym with or to jog with, cycle or just walk. At the least, any student should be able to find 30 minutes in their day to be active," comments Keri.
Are you living in a college dorm with a cafeteria filled with fattening food landmines? Keri offers these tips:
- Breakfast: "Look for 100% whole grains, i.e. oats, whole wheat toast, high fiber cereal and add lean protein and healthy fat, i.e. eggs, lowfat dairy, nuts."
- Lunch: "Grab a simple turkey or grilled chicken sandwich and make sure there is a veggie on your plate. If you want a burger, pass on the extra cheese and bacon and seek out avocado. If opting for the salad bar for your meal - make sure there is protein added, i.e. chicken, beans, tuna and don't pile on the croutons, cheese and creamy dressing."
- Dinner: "Look for the foods that aren't fried or sautéed in lots of butter. Choose fish, chicken or turkey most often preferably simple baked, grilled, or broiled or if eaten in salad - opt for a variety without heavy amounts of mayonnaise. Add a whole grain if available and again don't forget the veggies.
- Bonus tip: "Grab a piece of fruit to complete any or all meals. Drink lots of water and pass on beverages sweetened with lots of added sugar."