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How families can prevent the Freshmen 15

Pizza is popular
Pizza is popularPhoto by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

The fabled “Freshmen Fifteen” refers to the number of pounds students are rumored to gain during their first year in college. Unwanted weight gain may occur to anyone at any time but college students are particularly vulnerable because of their poor campus eating habits. Spoon University and grupHub teamed up to create the Infographic: The Curious Eating Habits of College Students “based on orders placed by college students at hundreds of college campuses during the 2013-2014 school year." As parents and their children get ready for the 2014-2015 school year, families may put together a plan of action to prevent their own Freshmen 15.

Students at Georgetown University, University of Notre Dame and Lafayette College request the “most ‘health-conscious” dishes compared to the most dessert orders from students attending Regis University, University of Texas and University of Illinois, according to the Infographic. Oddly, University of Tennessee shows up on both lists. Fortunately, it’s never too late for families to make a healthy life style a habit with the following three ways to prevent the Freshmen 15 at any stage in life.

Develop a life skill habit. Knowing the theory about foods that satisfy and boost metabolism doesn’t mean it is put into practice. It may not always be convenient to consume a regular meal. With a change of schedule, hunger may come earlier or later in the day or night, limiting options. Parents may wonder how their high school teens eat when permitted to go off campus for lunch or snack before or after extracurricular activities. As the Infographic shows, college students eat differently when they live away from home. College student preferences displayed in the Infographic for energy drinks, pizza, fries, and wings probably feature prominently in both student diets. The good news is salads and soups are also popular for current college students. However, if the ingredients used to make these are cream and dressings, they turn a healthy dish into an unhealthy bowl, especially if the plate is made out of fried dough.

Families may join together to make eating healthy a priority and a habit. Brainstorming good choices for meals and snacks is a good start. Families may jointly form a grocery list and shop, then prepare meals and eat together, whenever possible. Cooking and eating well balanced meals are life-skills that may be used before, during and after college. So is being prepared and carrying healthy quick snack options.

Get up and move. More calories are burned by standing and moving then sitting. The problem is, studying in high school and college is often as sedentary an activity as working in an office behind a desk. Most teens have a mandatory high school gym period at least a couple of days each week. Unless they are on a sports team, it may be their only consistent exercise, if they have a driver’s license and access to a car. A gym membership often is included in a college student’s tuition so all they have to do is use what they are already paying for.

New research from Washington University in St. Louis College finds standing during meetings improves teamwork and creativity. College, college-bound students and their families may opt for more movement in their lives, too. Make taking the stairs, using tech devices and having parent/student team meetings while standing, and parking further away from a destination when driving a habit. Set alarms on tech devices for break reminders to do some stretching or take a walk.

Have fun. Having a good time may be the single best way to achieve a healthy lifestyle. Use some time management skills to find time in the schedule to enjoy a favorite activity. Families may brainstorm some group ventures but individuals may also engage in solitary actions. Go outside with friends and family for bicycling and hiking or stay indoors to toss a ball in a waste basket or practice some new dance moves. No one around to join in the festivities? Hone skills and have some alone time fun by practicing solo.

For regular games and practices, research high schools, colleges, employers and communities about their sports team/intramural programs that match the joiner's level of expertise. Family members may show their support by cheering them on. Parents and children may also plan their own group outings like going to a lake/beach/park or a museum. Both of these usually require lots of walking, standing and moving.

Have a stay healthy suggestion for college and high school students? Please add it below in the comments section and stay in touch via Twitter.