Avoid freshman 15; try these healthy tips

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    It seems those dreaded words “the freshman 15” are on everyone’s lips when they first start college. As a vegetarian and a fairly healthy eater, I found myself completely aghast when the “freshman 15” started creeping up on me during my first year of college. After re-examining my eating habits, I found that my healthy lifestyle had been corrupted by college food favorites – the cheap and easy kind. So here are some tips to eating healthy. First, stay away from the Main. It may be enticing with already cooked meals, luscious cornbread and gooey cobblers, but at least put some veggies on your plate. I love the Main but it’s full of calorie-ridden goodness. Second, nix the fast food. On a college, budget fast food seems like the best alternative. You and I have heard the statistics and seen “Super Size Me.” There are a lot of healthier alternatives out there than Whataburger.

    Another thing you can do is to cook at home. You get to be in control of your portions and how much butter or olive oil you add to your food. Whereas, if you go out to eat you have no idea what the chef might have added to your food to make it taste so good. In your own kitchen you get to control what you eat and how it’s prepared. Remember there is a kitchen in the dorm.

    You might also want to remember that exercise is important to avoid “the freshman 15.” Find some time to walk your dog, ride your bike to and from school or make use of the University Recreation Center – it’s free!

    Of course, you shouldn’t deny what you crave. It seems that when people keep themselves from eating what they desperately want, they go crazy when they finally get it and gorge themselves. Keep the chocolate and candy around, but snack in moderation.

    With that being said, keep healthy snacks on hand. Some good ideas are: trail mix, carrots, yogurt, red grapes, cheese sticks and mixed nuts. Remember, the key word is “snack” but don’t be too weary about how much you consume as each of these foods have individual health benefits..

    Next, you should buy ingredients for quick meals. So what if coq au vin is your favorite meal? If you don’t have the time you are not going to cook it and will probably end up eating chicken nuggets instead. Buy things like whole-wheat tortillas, tomatoes, deli meats and cheese, bagged spinach and hummus. You can make wraps with all of these ingredients or bake the tortillas into chips for chips and dip.

    Finally, be creative! Not every meal has to be macaroni and cheese – it could be macaroni and cheese casserole with tomatoes and baked chicken.

    Ericka Strickland is a junior religion major from Plano.