Why do University Student Gain Weight at University?
The average weight gain for University students is 10 lbs in 4 years. What happens when teens get to University that leads to this gain?
- Reduced activity. The regular soccer practices in the evening, football practice after school on the senior team or dance classes 4 times a week just don’t fit the schedule anymore. Some students don’t join teams in University and haven’t figured out how to make the commitment to a gym membership. Solution: set a few times during the week that are reserved for your workout and make a commitment just like you do with a dentist appointment. Stick to it.
- Increased fast food consumption. When you don’t have leftovers to come home to the quickest and cheapest option on campus might be the fast food outlet. And mom isn’t there telling you not to order the fries. Solution: plan ahead and pack some snacks to tide you over until you can get home to make yourself something healthy. If you really need to buy food, go to a deli and get a sandwich and salad or a rice bowl with vegetables and lean protein.
- Food in residence. Being exposed to the option of chicken strips and fries on a nightly basis can be tempting for some. Solution: check out the salad bar, explore the other options and eat sooner so you don’t go buy what you crave and instead make a choice based on what you need.
- Skipping meals and snacks. If you wait too long to eat, you will get a low blood sugar and cravings set in. Solution: Pack some trail mix and an apple for quick snacks and think about your food before you leave for class.
- Increased alcohol consumption. With University comes a new freedom and often more parties. It’s great to meet to people and get out and enjoy University life, not every occasion needs to be a drinking one. Solution: Pick and choose your nights and set a limit before you go out. Drink water between every drink to help slow you down.
- Reduced sleep. When you are up late studying you may be tempted to snack to help keep you awake. Solution: Try snacking on lower calorie snacks like Frozen blueberries, pretzels or grapes rather than chips, ice cream and chocolate. Drink plenty of water or herbal tea.
- Mindless eating. Eating while studying is a habit you want to avoid getting into. Its like eating popcorn at the movies. You never thought you would eat the whole bag but you did… Solution: eat away from your computer. Take the mental break to pay attention to your food and then when you are done eating get back to your studies.
- Perceived cost of fruit and vegetables. It may seem that fruit and vegetables are too expensive but that’s not true when you compare it to eating out. The biggest cost is when you buy them and hide them in the crisper and then end up tossing them out because you didn’t eat them. Solution: when you come home with groceries, wash and prep some vegetables and fruit, make a salad and cut up a melon and make them visible in the fridge. You will be more likely to eat them if they are ready to go.
- Increased sugar sweetened beverage intake. Beverages like energy drinks with sugar and caffeine and vitamin water are expensive ways of getting extra calories with little or no nutritional benefit. Research shows that people who consume 1-2 sugar beverages per day had a 26% increased risk of developing type II diabetes than those consuming less than 1 serving per month. It is also associated with weight gain and obesity.