What most students may not know is that the vast majority of undergraduates actually don’t experience this.

Many college students (and college graduates) have heard or experienced the “Freshman 15.” This phenomenon is usually associated with the first semester/quarter in college and it refers to the 15 lbs that many students gain during their first year in school. But what most students may not know is that the vast majority of undergraduates actually don’t experience this.

The alleged Freshman 15 may be caused by several factors. Things like eating right and maintaining a regular sleep schedule seem like simple things that are usually harder to achieve when living in the dorms. What a lot of students don’t realize is the fact that their diet at home is usually designed to be nutritious and personalized to their needs. But when entering college, eating at the cafeteria 3 times a day can be a shock to one’s metabolism. Below are a couple of causes of the “Freshman 15″ and some suggestions on how to fight them.

Irregular Diet

It’s your first year in college and the cafeteria has so many choices! From burgers and fries, to pizza and pasta, you have a plethora of options that you can choose from. And since the school is serving them, they must be good, right? WRONG! As with any business, schools will try to spend the least amount of money possible to feed all the students and their guests. And in these economic times, who could blame them? But if you’re ready to take your diet into your own hands, here are a couple of things you could be aware of:

  1. Does your school offer organic items (salads, eggs, etc.)? If they do, take advantage of them and the nutrients they provide instead of opting for a quick side of fries and dessert.
  2. Is your school cafeteria “all-you-can-eat?” If it is, we would recommend you considering that as “all-you-wish-to-eat” rather than “all-you-can-eat.” Just because the food is there, doesn’t mean you have to try and eat everything.
  3. Take a nutrition class in college. Learn about the foods that you should be eating, the ones you should be avoiding, and how to create a balanced diet.

Irregular Sleep Schedule

Living in the dorms can be a trip. You meet dozens of new people, make new friends, develop new relationships, and now have a place to come back and call your “home away from home.” And just like any other college freshman, you’ll experience many late nights hanging out and having fun. But these late nights will have some serious adverse effects on your mental and physical health, which may affect your body weight. We recommend trying to maintain a regular sleep schedule. You don’t have to sleep at 10pm every night, but as long as the bedtime is somewhat consistent, your body will adjust to this new schedule and your metabolism will change accordingly.

Newly Found Alcohol

First and foremost, we do not condone underage drinking. Please respect state and city laws regarding alcohol consumption. That being said, alcohol isn’t new to the college scene. Students may be on their own for the first time and want to experience new things. But alcohol is also a major contributor to the “Freshman 15.” More often than not, beer is the main perpetrator. Most beers contain many calories with no nutritional value while also being low in alcoholic content. This results in higher consumption for those trying to reach a desired effect. Drinking also usually happens late at night, further amplifying the effect it may have on the waistline. Our recommendation: if you are going to drink, do so responsibly and not to get drunk. There is a major difference between being social and being the party drunkard.

Lack of Exercise

In college, you have classes, social events and projects to work on. When do you have time to exercise? Well, you can always find time to sneak in a quick jog, or a quick work-out at the gym. And no, walking to class does not count as exercise! We recommend getting involved in some college sports. You don’t have to be on the football team to play football. Join some intramural sports or maybe a club team. And if sports aren’t for you, college gyms often offer classes like yoga, pilates, cycling, dance, and more.