Five years ago when I was in my freshman year of college, I was terrified at the thought of gaining the “freshman 15.” Weight-gain in college seemed inevitable: I was surrounded with greasy dining hall food, well-stocked vending machines and copious amounts of alcohol at every turn of the head.
Miraculously, my weight didn’t skyrocket during my freshman year. Naively, I assumed that it was due to my self-control (refusing dining hall burgers and fries on a daily basis is no small feat). But a recent study provides a counter-argument for my self-praise. According to ScienceDaily.com, the freshman 15 is really more like the freshman 5.
What’s more, freshman weight-gain may not be college-related, but more a result of becoming a young adult. A recent article by NPR highlights the reasons why many people put on the pounds as they get older. Aging causes muscles to break down, which in turn causes calories to be burned at a slower rate. (Just one more thing to look forward to, right?)
But while the freshman 15 may not be a real threat to your body, it is certainly a threat to your mind. Repeated use of the weight-centric phrase will likely contribute to body image issues among college students, making them focus more than they should on the possibility of weight-gain.
While we now know that the threat of gaining an extra 15 pounds during your first year of college is pretty invalid, it’s no reason to become lax with healthy eating habits. Unchecked, weight-gain can amount to just under 15 pounds over the course of a four-year college stint. Even more, during their post-college years, the average person is thought to gain 1.5 pounds each year.
So, for those of you furiously checking your phones to see how many calories that bowl of pasta from Sbarro’s had: chill out. The most helpful rule of thumb when it comes to healthy eating, not only in college but anywhere is, “everything in moderation.” As long as you don’t buy your breakfasts at Starbucks everyday and can resist the urge to constantly satisfy your Chipotle craving, I’m sure you (and your weight) will be just fine.