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Establishing healthy habits at Rice: Don’t “beat” the changes, understand them

Photo by Esther Tang | The Rice Thresher

Illustration by Esther Tang

By Amelia Calautti     9/17/18 7:35pm

While students can expect to gain weight during their time at college, buzzwords like “the Freshman 15” are not college curses that afflict all unsuspecting victims. Factors like school-related stress and social pressure can very much affect eating and exercise habits, but it’s all a part of settling into a new lifestyle. Adjusting to college is difficult for everyone, and gaining some weight while coping with such a drastic change in lifestyle is totally normal. Understanding that this weight gain is commonplace is essential. 

However, if you are still concerned about gaining unhealthy weight, I feel you. College shakes up your lifestyle so much that you don’t realize that your habits are unhealthy until the weight settles in. As long as your goal is health-focused there is no shame in trying to better yourself and your habits. Here are some hidden tips that helped me establish a healthier lifestyle in college.

Beware of Buffet Temptations

Most people don’t have the option of a whole buffet at home. In college, it is very easy to get carried away by choices and fill your plate with everything you want to try. And more often than not, your eyes are bigger than your stomach.  If you transition from eating a bowl of cereal for breakfast to eating a whole plate of eggs, bacon and potatoes, this is an obvious way to gain weight. If you’re used to eating outside of servery hours, take some food back to your room for later instead of stuffing yourself. 

Make Healthy Choices

Don’t like what’s offered for dinner?  College gives you the freedom to pass on grilled chicken and salad for some greasier options. While it is OK to indulge on occasion, avoid constantly reaching for the fried food. Instead, treat yourself to food that will fuel your body and make you feel good, such as broccoli, greek yogurt or salmon. Your mom might not be here to tell you to eat your vegetables, but it’s still essential to eat greens at every meal to get your daily dose of vitamins. 

Mindful Midnight Snacking

Study breaks are a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you have all the junk food you could ever imagine. On the other hand, you have all the junk food you could ever imagine. Eating three slices of pizza at 11 p.m. is definitely common in college, but it’s not great for your body.  As the night wears on and you’re on your third hour of studying, your body yearns for junk food in compensation for stress and exhaustion. Consider healthier alternatives, like fruit or whole-wheat crackers.

Be Cautious of Dorm Munching

Having a stash of Goldfish in your room is useful — until you reach for a few and end up finishing the bag in one sitting. Sometimes, just the knowledge of having food nearby is enough to tempt you into mindlessly munching. If you do get hungry often, buy healthy snacks like dried fruit, nuts or prepackaged portions. However, if you can manage without, passing on the snacks will save you money and calories.

Stay Active

The Recreation Center is open from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m.,  Monday to Thursday, for a reason. Unlike high school, college gives you the flexibility to space out your classes. If you have a three-hour gap between Econ and Psych, head to the Rec. Or, if you prefer to work out at night, walk over at 11 p.m. While you may just want to lay in bed and watch Netflix after a long day of classes, being active everyday, even for just 30 minutes, will help relieve stress and keep you in shape. If you would rather not exercise in the gym, there is always the option to swim laps, join a group exercise class, run the outer loop or play pickup basketball.  

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