High calorie cafeteria food, meals on the go, stressful lifestyle changes, and too much partying can cause students to gain weight.
Studies show, on average, post-secondary students gain anywhere from three to 10 pounds during the first semester, according to Freshman 15 website. Weight gain is caused by lack of exercise, eating late at night, keeping unhealthy snacks in the dorm room, eating unhealthy cafeteria food, and drinking alcohol.
Avoiding the “Freshmen 15” weight gain could be as straightforward as learning how to cook from a recipe.
For Lesley Andrade, health nutritionist at the Sudbury & District Health Unit, consumption patterns in Canadians have shifted from home-cooked to pre-made, pre-packaged foods of convenience. These foods tend to be higher in fat, sugar and salt.
“Salt is particularly a real concern. We have intakes of sodium that are well beyond the upper limits where there’s going to be adverse health effects.”
Ideally people should return to whole food, she says. “(But) we’ve also lost the skill of how to prepare whole foods, work with a recipe and make a meal. If you have parents or grandparents with that skill, learn from them. Cook with them. Ask questions.”
Cooking and food preparation are skills that are being lost in some of our youth, she adds. Cooking will help save money in the long run. “You can always make a comparable product cheaper yourself and you know exactly what you’re putting in it.”
Still, when it comes to the Freshman 15, weight is not necessarily an appropriate measure of health for Andrade.
“There are so many other aspects that make up a healthy individual,” she says. “I think as a society we’re more weight focused. We’ve shifted as a culture in North American ideal. (It) doesn’t guarantee health either because there are lots of ways people may achieve that thin that are very unhealthy.”
As they shift to post-secondary life, students are also shifting from adolescence to adulthood, so their nutritional needs are different. Adolescents have high energy levels. They are achieving peak bone density during these years, she says.
For Andrade, the key is to eat according to Canada’s Food Guide.
Canada’s Food Guide: everything old is new again. And, in the case of the Canada’s Food Guide, improved. The guide is still the standard. Eat three meals a day containing at least three of the four food groups.
Change is good: The guide has changed. The food group “other foods” has been dropped. Now the foods higher in fat and salt are no longer part of the guide.
Grocery shopping: Secure the perimeter: A grocery store is set up such that you can collect most of the food in the Canada’s Food Guide from the shelves along the outer ring of the store. You start in fruit and veggies, move to bread onto meat and fish to finish in dairy. “We can also find healthy food choices which are frozen, canned or dry…They’re in the centre.” Canned tuna, beans cost less and are usually just as healthy, Andrade says. Though you do have to read the labels.
French Fries – Friend or Foe? “If you’re going to have your French fries, balance it out,” Andrade says. For a meal, she recommends choosing three of the four food groups.
“If we are having some French fries, can we get veggies and fruit in there? Can they have a glass of milk? We’re not saying, ‘Don’t have the fries.’ We’re saying, ‘You have to look at your overall intake every day.’”
If you slip, it’s OK, but if you’re going to have the treat, have something from the Canada Food guide with it, says Andrade.
When in doubt, who are you gonna call?
Try 1-877-510-510-2 and talked to a registered dietitian at EatRight Ontario.
Or visit: ontario.ca/eatright.
Call the Sudbury and District Health Unit at 522-9200;
Join a club or gym: Sudbury Sport link: http://www.sportlink.ca/
Leisure Guide for listings of even s and a range of activities in Sudbury:
Also see: http://www.freshman15.com