We’ve all heard of the dreaded ‘Freshman 15.’ First-year college students leave home for the first time, and a lack of home cooked meals and parental supervision on their diet forces them to put on unhealthy weight during their first semester at school. Being a college student myself, I certainly understand the temptation that leads to many students gaining weight their freshman years. While many schools offer a plethora of healthy options, there’s also nothing stopping students from eating unhealthy foods for every meal, which is often what leads to weight gain for many students. Heck, if I wanted to, I could walk down to the dining hall right now, and eat 3 ice-cream sandwiches at 10 o’clock in the morning, and nobody would be there to stop me. So, how can students maintain a healthy diet during their freshman year?

When many people think about eating during one’s freshman year of college, the first thought that comes to mind is the dining hall. This is where most first-year students consume most of their meals, and making the most of what these locations have to offer is essential in maintaining a healthy diet. The good thing is, all colleges are invested in seeing the happiest and healthiest version of their students, and this creates for a wide variety of options at the dining hall. For those trying to lose or avoid gaining weight, most dining halls have some form of a salad bar, where students can customize their own healthy salads, and avoid various foods that will help them put on weight. Personally, I’ve been trying to gain weight, and that’s actually been made easier by my options at college! My dining hall, and dining halls at universities around the county, offer all sorts of protein rich meats and fish that have allowed me to gain weight in a healthy fashion. As long as students have the discipline to stick to their personal goals, the dining hall will have the dietary options to support those goals. Check out this article for some Smart Food Switches you can make in the dining hall, or cooking at home!  Live in a dorm? You probably have room for a blender. Here are some great tips for the Ultimate Protein Shake

Let’s be honest though, dining hall food isn’t always the best tasting, and even if it is, it can get awfully repetitive if students are going there for every meal. Luckily for students, virtually every campus in the country offers some sort of dining alternative on campus, many of which accept meal swipes! Whether it’s a large chain like Panera Bread, or a local mom-and-pop restaurant, many eateries on college campuses allow students to add healthy variety to their diet, yet remain extremely affordable by taking meal swipes. If students know their options, and stick to their goals, it’s more than possible that their freshman year diet is an even healthier one than they had at home!