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Beating the Freshman 15

How to stay fit, healthy, and at least close to your high school weight during your first year at college.

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• Low- or non-fat Greek yogurt, a great source of protein

• Fresh fruit

• Low- or non-fat milk -- the real thing, or soy or almond milk

• String cheese

• Hummus and veggies (baby carrots, broccoli florets) for dipping

Grubiak also likes protein bars. They provide a steady source of energy rather than the short sugar spikes you get from candy bars and soft drinks. Just realize that not all protein bars are created equal. Take a look at the nutrition info and make sure the bar you're buying has at least 7 grams of protein and no more than 30 grams of carbs. And sugar shouldn't be the first ingredient.

Eating well doesn't mean denying yourself everything you love to eat. Just be smart about it. If you go out for burgers, get a small order of fries and don't supersize your order. And skip the sodas, most of which are loaded with calories. Those are already tough enough to burn off when you spend most of your day sitting at a desk in class or hunched over books in the library.

Rule No. 3: Move

Speaking of burning calories, work some exercise into your daily routine. Going to the gym is a great move when you can get there, but Grubiak tells students not to underestimate the good that walking will do for you. Give yourself time to take the long way to class, she says. Use the stairs wherever possible.

Don't feel like leaving your dorm? Grubiak recommends surfing the Internet for an aerobics video or getting a workout with a Nintendo Wii. Some students, she says, simply turn on the radio and dance around the room or jump rope to work up a sweat.

Exercise not only helps you maintain a healthy weight but also provides an excellent counter to stress and anxiety. Both can wreak havoc on your diet, causing you to binge on donuts or skip meals altogether.

Rule No. 4: Drink

Water, that is. You want to make sure you're getting plenty of water throughout the day. Every part of your body needs it. "Eight cups a day is the bare minimum," says Grubiak. Her rule of thumb? Take half your body weight and drink that many ounces of water. So, if you're 150 pounds, that's 75 ounces or about 10 cups a day. Your water requirement can also be satisfied with water-heavy foods like soups, watermelon, vegetables, and beverages.

Grubiak's final piece of advice: Take advantage of where you are in life. You're a student, you're at college, you're learning. Make good nutrition a part of that learning process. Understand the foods that go into your body and what they do for --  or to -- you. That's knowledge you can "chew" on way past graduation day. 

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Reviewed on June 14, 2011

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