Aug 252011
Authors: Kristen Gaede

The Rec Center has been bursting at the seams this week, but even with the spin of the stationary bike wheels and the sweat dripping on the floor mats in the weight room, the average college student will still pack on some pounds his or her freshman year.

According to Pati Thomas, a certified nutritionist at the Fort Collins Mountain Center for Healing, it is common for freshman to gain weight when they enter college.

“Sometimes the last thing (students) are thinking about is what they put in their bodies,” Thomas said. “They are trying to get to class and getting used to a new schedule, social structure and the new stresses of academia.”

She added that students just don’t take the time to worry about their health.

“When they eat, they are not thinking consciously about it,” Thomas said. “There are a lot of places to grab things on-the-go and they will grab things that will satisfy their appetite, but are not real food.”

The Journal of American College Health found that the average weight gain is about seven pounds in a student’s freshman year and if that rate of weight gain is maintained through all four years of college, students have the potential to gain 28 pounds by graduation.

“It is perhaps most important for students to recognize that seemingly minor and perhaps even harmless changes in eating or exercise behavior may result in large changes in weight and body fat mass over an extended period of time,” The journal stated.

Some changes that come into a student’s life during college are an increase in the consumption of fast foods, alcohol and carbohydrate-rich cafeteria food.

“Over eating carbohydrates and bad quality fats that are, unfortunately, typical in college food can cause weight gain,” Thomas said. “The best thing a student can do is to make time to make food at their apartment or get ready ahead of time so that they have better food to eat.”

Some students have already decided to take steps necessary to maintain a healthy weight during their freshman year.

Heidi Mundhenken isn’t very concerned about gaining weight this year, but she does have an edge over her fellow freshman. She is a double major in sport medicine and nutrition.

“I live off-campus and I make all my meals at home,” Mundhenken said. “I also stay really active, I just don’t feel good when I’m not.”

Nutritionists agree that an approach like Mundhenken’s is helpful to keep away the extra weight.

“Everyone’s body is different,” Thomas said. “Some students may need to run three miles a day , while others can do yoga for a half-hour. Students need to get in touch with what their body tells them about the activity they need and make sure that they stay with it.”

Senior animal science major Marissa Humbers offered advice for students coming into college this year.

“Its hard to eat right when you eat on campus,” she said. “Just go for the healthy stuff and ride your bike.  CSU is a great campus to ride your bike on. Also, don’t veg out during finals week and binge on junk food, you’ll regret it.”

Collegian writer Kristen Gaede can be reached at

Avoid caffeine: Your body processes caffeine (and sugar) very quickly. it also raises the stress hormone cortisol (a hormone raises your heart rate, blood pressure and tells your body to store more fat). Instead of coffee or energy drinks, eat a banana and drink a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice. Fresh fruits and juices will keep your body hydrated and boost your energy, too.

Stay active: Work out at the Rec, ride your bike to school, take the stairs and dance around your house when you’re cleaning up.  Keeping your body in motion will help burn off any extra calories you are eating.

Use self-control at the buffet: “All you can eat” does not mean “eat it all”- Watch your portion sizes and try to fill up at the salad bar, not the dessert table.

*Make healthy choices: *Go to bed early, have yogurt instead of pie, jog on your study breaks instead of watching TV. A combination of these small choices can make a difference to your health.

Make your own lunch: It gives you the power to eat what you want when you want.  No lunch lines means no hassle when you’re hungry and it will save you money.

 Posted by at 5:42 pm

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