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Subtract the ‘freshman 15’

So the scale you received for Christmas is already defective? Finding it hard to recognize your own rear? Did you spend the majority of break vegetating on a comfy sofa, ransacking every crevice of your family’s kitchen and avoiding the cooler weather outside at any cost? If so, you are not alone.

If this is your second – or even your last – semester dealing with university life, you may have realized that your eating habits and waistline seem to change with breaks and finals. As most are already aware, college can place a lot of stress on emerging young adults’ lives. After all, college is usually the first time young adults are charged with the task of taking care of themselves. This essentially means getting acquainted with the underworld of not-so-nutritious college cuisine.

The main staples of college diets in our era seem to stem from the advent of the microwave as well as greasy fast food joints. Both produce grub that is quick, easy, cheap and filling. What more could a preoccupied college student ask for? Ramen noodles, loaded pizzas, chips, wings and cheap beer are unanimously known as a college student’s prime diet.

A multi-year study by researchers at Tufts University in Boston found that on average, men gain six pounds and women gain around four and a half during their first year in college.So, what’s behind the college weight gain? For starters, college is full of temptations. Students are on their own, free to indulge in whatever they want, whenever they want.

Another answer is simple: College is a time of hectic change. The stress of acclimating to school can trigger overeating. Eating in response to different feelings can become the norm after a while.

Anxiety that may come from the pressure to perform well in school, maintaining personal relationships and making enough money are just some common feelings people try to eat their way through.

Although some weight gain is understandably normal and typical as young bodies grow, pronounced or ongoing weight gain is an expanding problem. The latest figures from the National Center for Health Statistics show that 30 percent of U.S. adults 20 years of age and older – more than 60 million people – are obese. The percentage of young people who are overweight has more than tripled since 1980, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Poor diet and exercise habits can lead to major problems in adulthood, from heart disease and diabetes to obesity and an increased risk of various types of cancers.

Students may eat as they do because they can’t afford to eat much better, but as they age, taste and habit may become accustomed to those unhealthy foods that don’t have the capability to give the body the balanced content of nutrients it needs.

The aforementioned Tufts University study also found that 70 percent of students get fewer than the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

It’s not too late to get back to the slim and healthy track. Taking a sound approach to eating is a good start.

Lynn Smiley, a nutritionist at the University of Arizona, recommends planning for the late nights by eating smaller portions during the day. You’ll enjoy your midnight snack a lot more knowing that you’re not adding too many extra calories to your diet.

Of course, these tips for taking a stricter approach toward the meals eaten aren’t going to result in the body of a swimsuit model, but it is a start. The temptation to go off the deep end with regard to eating whatever one wants, whenever one wants is intoxicating on a college campus. But strive for moderation. Don’t drink, party or eat in excess. The bottom line here is to have fun and enjoy the dynamic college world, but make smart choices.

Here is a list of some tips that may help prevent weight gain:

Eat slowly.

Eat at regular times each day.

Keep between-meal snacking to minimum and try to make them healthy choices, such as a small serving of fruit, vegetables or nuts.

Choose a variety of nutritious foods.

Watch the portion sizes.

Steer clear of vending machines and fast food.

Keep healthy snacks such as small pieces of fruit, vegetables, nuts or whole-grain crackers on hand just in case.

Replace empty-calorie soft drinks (such as soda and sugary coffee) with water.

Staying up late usually equates to eating more, and late-night refreshments tend to be less than healthy.