College is usually the first time you are on your own and making your own choices. You are free to eat and drink what you want, when you want. Unfortunately, there is no "quick fix" for losing the weight you gain. However, managing your stress, sleeping enough and drinking to a minimum, as well as exercising regularly and maintaining healthy dietary habits will help you lose weight successfully.
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Cut the Stress
Heavy class loads and studying can certainly contribute to stressful times, which could influence weight gain. A study in a 2013 issue of Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, demonstrated students who had healthful eating behaviors, but perceived a high stress level exhibited a higher body fat gain than students who had similar healthful eating behaviors but low perceived stress. Time management is a key to reducing stress. Prioritize your studies and, as tempting as it may be, avoid skipping class. Stay in frequent contact with your professors and academic advisers. They can help you reduce academic-related stress with planning and study techniques. Also try meditation, yoga and breathing exercises to help you manage stress.
The demands of college can often leave you feeling drained and more commonly, sleep deprived. According to a study that was written by researchers from the Department of Medicine at University of Chicago and published in a 2007 issue of Sleep Medicine Reviews, sleep loss may play a role in increased obesity. The negative affects of sleep deprivation may actually increase the number of people's food intake periods and increase their potential intakes of high-energy dense foods, such as fast food and soft drinks, which are easily accessible on campus. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep to cut those cravings.
Late Night Munchies
Drinking alcohol, which is not uncommon at college parties, can contribute to overeating. Late night eating is generally a component of the college experience. A study published in a 2008 issue of Eating Behaviors suggests that late-night eating of unhealthful food occurs more often on drinking nights than on non drinking nights. Over time, this can lead to weight gain. Limit drinking episodes and avoid binge drinking.
Back To Basics
In this world of smart phones, there are a plethora of free apps that can help you keep track of the calories you eat and the types of food you are eating, which will help you stick to your weight loss plan. Join the school gym. Try intramural sports to stay active and to meet new people, some of whom may also be looking to lose weight. Consume energy-dense foods such as fruits and whole grains to induce satiety and provide lasting energy. Many colleges have Registered Dietitians at your disposal. To lose weight successfully, use your resources well and enjoy the journey.
- Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Perceived Stress, Eating Regulation Behaviors, and Body Mass Index, Body Weight and Percent Body Fat Relationships over the First Two Years of College
- Sleep Medicine Reviews: The Metabolic Consequences Of Sleep Deprivation
- Eating Behavior: The Relationship Between Alcohol Use, Eating Habits And Weight Change In College Freshman
- Wardlaw's Perspectives In Nutrition: Ninth Edition; Carol Byrd-Bredbenner, Ph.D., R.D. Gaile Moe, Ph.D., R.D., Donna Beshgetoor, Ph.D., Jacqueline Berning, Ph.D., R.D.