So, you’re starting college? Congratulations! The beginning of college is an exciting time, filled with hopes, dreams…and stress! You may have heard of a phenomenon called the “freshman 15.” This refers to the possible weight gain that can occur during the first year of college due to numerous factors. Let’s think of some ways to avoid this.

1. Let’s Talk Breakfast.

The Dairy Council of California states that if you skip breakfast on a regular basis, you are more likely to gain weight. Seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Breakfast gets your metabolism going!

You might want to start off your day with a couple of hard-boiled eggs and spinach. A healthy breakfast can provide you with the necessary fuel to focus and concentrate on your classes throughout the day.

2. Let’s PARTY

You have your freedom. You’ve been wanting this for a long time. It’s time to let loose! But be careful with the booze. Alcohol can really pack on the pounds when consumed in large quantities

Here are two tips for mitigating the caloric effects of alcohol:

Drink a glass of water after each glass of alcohol.

Eat a good meal before you head to the bar.

3. Run for Your Life

Make time in your schedule to do the type of exercise that you enjoy! If you don’t like to run, don’t tell yourself that you will run every morning because you will quickly lose motivation. However, try to do some cardiovascular exercise each day. Walk to class instead of taking the bus. It’s good for your health, and you will be more alert during class.

4. Sleep Your Way to Success?

More and more studies are being done on the quality of sleep and how that affects your performance. Everybody has different sleep needs in terms of the average amount of sleep per night, but there is some agreement on how to get quality sleep.

If possible, make sure your bedroom gets as little light as possible while you sleep. Pitch black would be best. Also, try to reduce or eliminate the amount of noise. Sleeping fewer hours, but without interruption, may be just as good, or better, than sleeping longer with noise in your environment.

5. Take 20

Did you know that it takes around 20 minutes for your brain to understand that you’re full? There is a slight delay while you are eating in understanding how much food you have consumed. This is empowering information because if you eat slowly over a period of 20 minutes you can prevent overeating. Take your time, enjoy your food and help your digestion at the same time.

6. Watch Out for the Soda

Many students reach for a soda (or two or three) while they are studying to give them that extra caffeine and sugar boost. Over time, that’s a staggering number of calories. One possible solution is to shift your schedule slightly. For example, if you went to bed at 1 a.m. instead of 3 a.m. you may not need the caffeine or sugar that soda provides and you might also sleep better!

There are many challenges and stresses in starting your college career. However, the “freshman 15” need not be one of them. The above tips might help you to lead a more relaxed, healthy approach to this exciting time in your life. Good luck out there!