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How to Avoid the Freshman 15

Freshman year at college—a time of so many firsts. Don’t make gaining the stereotypical 15 pounds one of them.


  • Step 1: Stock up on instant soups Stock up on instant soups. Sounds weird, but studies show that eating soup before a meal makes people eat fewer overall calories.
  • TIP: Don’t skip meals! Skipping one meal invariably leads to overeating at the next.
  • Step 2: Eat air-popped popcorn When everyone else dives into the chips, opt for air-popped popcorn—three cups has only 90 calories. And try shaking on hot sauce instead of salt and butter—you’ll be surprised how tasty it is.
  • Step 3: Eat licorice & jelly beans Keep licorice and jelly beans around to satisfy your sweet tooth—they’re fat free. But they’re still chock-full of sugar, so don’t gorge.
  • TIP: Make snack-sized portions before you starting eating to prevent yourself from mindlessly munching until you’re stuffed.
  • Step 4: Drink herbal tea Make your coffeehouse favorite an herbal tea instead of your usual double grande almond mocha latte with extra whipped cream.
  • Step 5: Exercise Exercise at least a few times a week—anything that gets your heart pumping for 30 minutes or more will do, whether it’s playing ultimate Frisbee or just running late to class.
  • Step 6: Blot grease with napkins When the gang gets pizza or fried chicken, blot your pieces with paper napkins. You’ll be amazed at how much grease you can remove—at 14 grams of fat and 120 calories per tablespoon!
  • Step 7: Watch your drinking Let’s be honest—the biggest threat to your weight may well come from one thing: beer. A 12 oz. can contains anywhere from 110 to 200 calories, so if you tap the keg more than a few times, it adds up—fast!
  • TIP: Bouncing between classes, meetings, work, and parties can make mealtimes erratic. Text yourself to keep track of what you eat and when.
  • FACT: According to a 2007 survey by the Journal of American College Health, 59% of college students gained weight during freshman year, averaging a gain of 4.6 pounds.

You Will Need

  • The determination not to gain 15 pounds
  • Healthy snacks and eating habits
  • And willpower

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