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How to Prevent Weight Gain in College

College students everywhere are struggling with the epidemic known as the Freshman 15, the unsightly and unhealthy weight gain that comes after the young adult's first major steps toward independence. When you go away to college and start living on your own, dietary changes are sure to occur. Mom's home cooking kept you nourished and healthy through childhood, but the endless buffet of junk food in college is going to do its best to break that healthy diet in half. Staying in shape through your college career is incredibly important, and there are several things you can do to prevent weight gain in college.

Cooking your own food is the best way to start. Some schools offer meal plans and dining halls that can provide nourishing food for students, but health conscious offerings tend to be limited. If you're living in a dorm or an off-campus apartment, find time in your schedule to cook your own healthy meals. Staple foods like rice, beans and vegetables can fill you up without adding to your weight, and a healthy home cooked diet can save you lots of money as well. Invest in quality cookware and find time to visit your local grocers to keep your diet wholesome and healthy.

For many students, of course, diet may not be enough to stay healthy and keep the weight off. Another problem that you may run into is common among college students--lack of exercise. Plan on spending hours every day sitting in lecture halls, followed by hours of studying in computer labs and libraries. This sedentary lifestyle leads to weight gain, so stay active while you study at college. Join a sports team or campus club. Whether you enjoy team games, jogging, cycling or any other physical activity, there's sure to be a club for you. Get some exercise to keep yourself in shape and meet new people at the same time.

You might find yourself without extra time in the day for recreational activities. Heavy course loads and stressful exam periods can leave you with precious little free time to do anything, so make healthier decisions in your daily life to stay active and keep the weight off. Rather than driving through campus and around town for your commutes and errands, ride a bike. You'll get a bit of good exercise every day, and you'll save money on driving expenses as well. If you go for coffee in the morning, choose drinks that are low in sugar and calories. Walk up the stairs rather than riding elevators. These little actions add up to big results.

Preventing weight gain in college is difficult for some students, but it can be effortless for you if you make a few small lifestyle changes. Whether you're powering through your freshman term of undergrad study or pursuing an online MSW degree, staying healthy now will help you tremendously in the future. Extra weight is only going to drag you down, and this is a time in your life when you need all the energy you can get. Keep the weight off to stay healthy and succeed in college.