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The “Freshman 15” seems like a myth, but the facts back it up. A 2015 study done by a research publishing company called BMC explained that college freshman can put on two to 13 pounds in their first year in school. They concluded in the study that almost two-thirds of freshman gained that extra weight.

Two current BYU-Idaho students said they believe in the “Freshman 15” because they dealt with it first-hand.

“I gained about seven pounds my first year of school,” Sam Bennett said. “I would say the main reason for it was because I wasn’t social and stayed in my room all the time, which kept me from eating normally and being active like I was before going to college.”

The fear of the “Freshman 15” can sit on any freshman, and that’s what happened to Talise Hatfield.

“During my first year of college I was afraid of gaining the ‘Freshman 15,'” Hatfield said. “It resulted in a restrictive eating disorder where I would eat hardly anything in a day, which quickly turned into binge eating when I started having family struggles. Ultimately, it led to me gaining about 20 pounds throughout my college career.”

With the possibility that freshman could gain unhealthy weight, it all comes down to what what they put into their body, because that will have a major effect in 20 years.

“The nutrients that your body needs are not found in ‘fast foods,'” said Jennifer McCoy, a physical health and fitness teacher. “They are found in foods that are as close to their natural form as possible. Your body is an amazing and complex series of chemical reactions. All of the chemistry going on in your body needs specific tools (energy, vitamins and minerals from food) to make everything work properly.”

Eating healthy and getting through college IS a possibility, but it depends on if students have the want and need to be healthy.

It might be realistic for a college student to cook a homemade dinner three nights during the week. Eat leftovers for lunch or store them in the freezer for a meal later in the week or even the month. There are so many meals that take less than 30 minutes to prepare. This begins with making a plan, selecting simple, nutritious meals and scheduling in meal prep into the day. Students who don’t have a lot of time can keep things simple and make it work for their situation.

The saying “you are what you eat” applies. Those who eat junk will probably feel like junk, but those who eat healthy will probably feel so much better.

“I remember so many times when I wouldn’t eat anything, and I would just feel like crap the whole day, but then I would get home and my roommates would want to go out to eat almost every night, and I went with them,” Bennett said. “The junk food in me made me feel absolutely terrible about myself.”

The American Heart Association released a new study in January identifying that 48 percent of Americans have some form of cardiovascular disease. This statistic includes college age individuals. This means that one in two college students have a cardiovascular disease.

“What you eat and how you feed yourself have a direct impact on if you will develop a cardiovascular disease,” McCoy explains. “There is unequivocal evidence that shows better nutrition leads to longevity and a healthier life.”

There is one more issue with gaining and loosing unhealthy weight during school, and that is the fact that money is an issue for many college students. Thus, they resort to either not eating as often, which means fewer groceries to buy, or purchasing a cheap package of ramen noodles. Ramen noodles contain 190 calories, 830 milligrams of sodium, and 26 grams of the total carbs in only half the package.

McCoy said eating healthy doesn’t have to break the bank, but it does take some work. “Choosing healthy foods is NOT expensive. You do have to make a plan, it doesn’t happen on its own,” she said. “One of the best ways is to ‘meal plan’ — and don’t complicate it! Simply write out three breakfasts, lunches and dinners you really like. Make sure they are quick to put together. This should take about 10 minutes. Once you have your list of ingredients go grocery shopping. This whole process should take no longer than 60 minutes.”

McCoy gives a few tips on getting started on changing meal habits:

1. Drink water. This will help boost your metabolism and even act as an appetite suppressant.

2. Bring snacks from home, like fruit, yogurt, nuts, etc.

3. Stay active! Even if this includes a small walk around the block or even walking in a faster pace at the grocery store, being active is a key role in staying fit and healthy.

4. Get enough sleep at night. People who don’t get enough sleep usually crave the high calorie junk foods that add up to more pounds.

5. Make a sack lunch if you’re going to class or work. This saves you money and gives you a healthy lunch for on the go.

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