Azzara: Freshmen stay wary of your waistline

By Katie Azzara

There are plenty of reasons to be worried about starting college. But concerns about making… There are plenty of reasons to be worried about starting college. But concerns about making friends, finding your way around campus and living away from home for the first time are nothing compared to the thing that many first-year students fear most: the freshman 15.

You’ve likely heard the stories about slim young people who go off to college and return with  extra meat on their bones, and you’ve probably even seen the Facebook pictures to prove it. But avoiding freshman-year weight gain actually isn’t as difficult as it seems. There are just a few simple tips to keep in mind.

First of all, it’s important to avoid the temptation to go crazy and eat whatever you want now that you aren’t having wholesome homecooked meals. Chances are, you’ll be eating the majority of your meals at campus dining halls like Market Central and The Perch or using your dining dollars at the Union or the Cathedral Café, where it’s easy to find unhealthy food.On the rare occasions when you decide to treat yourself to something outside of your meal plan, you’ll most likely be eating at one of the relatively inexpensive chains close to campus, like Chipotle or Five Guys. These homes of delicious calorie bombs are not exactly the best options if you’re looking to avoid the freshman 15.

But there are ways to eat nutritiously on and near campus. Most of the campus dining facilities offer decent salad bars as well as stations where you can make your own sandwich, which allows you to choose the ingredients you want and avoid unhealthy ones that add extra calories.

Obviously, it’s important to practice a certain amount of self-control. This means not getting fries, soda and ice cream with every meal just because you have the option to.

As far as off-campus eating goes, it’s worth it to find places that offer healthy options without sacrificing taste, such as Panera Bread and Red Oak Café, both of which are conveniently located on Forbes Avenue. I recommend venturing off campus to explore other healthy eating options.

Another thing to keep in mind is the kind of food you should have available in your dorm room. Since freshman housing isn’t normally equipped with kitchen facilities, I recommend keeping things like fruit and yogurt in your room for breakfast or for when you need a quick snack. This way, you won’t be as tempted to go to Quick Zone and buy candy and chips to satisfy your snack cravings.

Arguably the biggest culprit behind the freshman 15, however, is late-night eating. Your first year of college, you’ll inevitably end up staying out late with your friends, getting hungry and looking for something to eat. And with great late-night deals at pizza places like Sorrento’s or Antoons on Atwood Street or access to The Original Hot Dog Shop and McDonald’s, you’re likely to grab extra meals you might not otherwise eat during the day.

Clearly, the best option to avoid weight gain is to forego the after-hours food binges entirely. But if you absolutely must fulfill your late night cravings, in order to avoid ending up stuffing your face with fried food, keep in mind that there are other options. Places like Fuel & Fuddle and Joe Mamas have late-night half-price menus, as well as options that are decidedly healthier than burgers and fries.

And as much as you probably don’t want to hear it, exercise is another important factor in avoiding the freshman 15. However, it’s really not as much of a hassle as you might think. There are exercise facilities conveniently located either inside of or close to most of the on-campus residence halls, and Pitt shuttles will drop you off right outside the doors.

Also keep in mind that going to the gym does not have to be a chore. Bring some study materials to look over while you’re on the elliptical, or better yet, invite your roommate or someone from your floor to go with you. You’ll kill two birds with one stone by both burning calories and bonding with new friends.

As long as you put in a little bit of effort, the freshman 15 is entirely avoidable. If you keep the aforementioned tips in mind, you should be able to have a successful and fulfilling freshman year experience without the extra stress of returning home 15 pounds heavier.

Write [email protected].