Eating healthy will help avoid unwanted weight gain

For most the luxury of a home cooked meal is far from the reality of heavily prepared and packaged foods that come to be the staple of many college students living on and off campus. It's also far away from the good nourishing meals that many are used to at home.

Now just because you might not be able to prepare a healthy meal doesn't mean it should be an excuse for heading for those high calorie options time and time again. They will only add pounds onto your body and are not really food for thought, something you need to keep you going daily from class to class.

Noelle Martin, is a registered dietician with Registered Dietians Services in London and is all too familiar with the infamous “freshmen 15” weight gain. But it just isn't the “freshmen 15” anymore, it can be even more.

“I really think it's as common as we think it is, and for some it's 15 poundsfor some it's 40. I think for those who are conscious of their food intake, or those who have a really good metabolism and can just handle that little bit of extra food that might come with first year it's 15,” she said. “Those that go into residence and maybe just kind of go nuts with the high starch foods, the high fat foods, the alcohol, the staying up all night and you know the food that goes along with that they could end up seeing closer to 40.”

Martin also stressed the importance especially to first-year students to remember that whatever eating standard you set for yourself once you begin school can stick with you literally for a long time down the road.

“If they don't start out with a healthy lifestyle they will potentially gain that weight and it's harder to lose it then it is to prevent gaining it,” she said. “Once you've gained anywhere from 15 to 40 pounds it can be a lot harder to lose it because you've got to cut your food intake back and ideally add exercise in there as well.”

Martin did admit that this is sometimes hard to do especially for those in school trying to maintain studying and succeeding at the same time, along with other pressures of daily life.

You're probably asking how can I eat healthy if there aren't any options available to me? Martin said that slowly but surely a move towards healthier eating by students is the way things are going.

“I think there's a movement towards that. There are always going to be unhealthy options that students can purchase; however, I think we are seeing more of the healthy options.”

She cited the fact that many food services that operate eateries in post-secondary institutions such as here at the college are catering to students who want to know the nutrition facts for their meal and then decide if it's a healthy choice or not. As well there are more meal deal options with healthier choices available on many menus, and more signs indicating healthier options. The only crux in the matter is that many are dissuaded from picking options that are healthy because they tend to hit the pocketbook harder than other options. Martin said that indeed some things are more expensive to produce, hence the reason for a higher price, but we should be working towards solutions to see how we can make them less expensive.

“How can we make it so that these healthy foods are less expensive so that students and really all people are more apt to buy those foods as opposed to buying the potato chips and the chocolate bar?” she said.

Here are some healthy eating tips from Martin:

- Have a good, healthy breakfast, because it is better to have something than nothing at all, and consuming energy will help to get your body started. They didn't lie when they said breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This can be anything from cereal with milk and fruit, toast or a small bagel with peanut butter, a hard- boiled egg, or yogurt for protein with toast or a granola bar, or even a bottled smoothie.

- Take healthy snacks and a healthy lunch with you for during the day or money for them. Nutrition is key for during the day especially for focusing and study habits. If you don't eat during the day you tend to over consume when it comes time for dinner.

- If you need that boost of energy don't go and grab the nearest energy drink because it's not a healthy choice, it's sweet, and it creates a false facade of making you feel energized. “If you can try to have as much sleep as possible and eat all day you won't end up needing those energy drinks. In reality all they do is give you a false sense of energy and then you can crash, and you might be awake but the question to ask yourself: Is my mind working? Am I learning? Am I studying? Am I taking in what I want to take in or am I just awake and my eyes are open? That's the difference between nourishment and energy.”