Moderation is key to fighting off weight gain

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    Ok. So eating back at school is quite a change from having mom serve up dinner every night at 6. Many students struggle with regulating what they eat when they’re at school so as to not gain or lose too much weight while keeping up with their diet.Gaining weight in college is not a myth. According to a study conducted over several years at Tufts University, men gain an average of 6 pounds their first year of college while women gain on average 4.5 pounds.

    The Main has a multitude of items to choose from, not all of which may be the best decisions for one’s waistline. On any given day, The Main has entrees including spinach lasagna, chicken curry and eggplant parmesan; not exactly the most low-calorie choices. This is in addition to the everyday offerings at Grill 155, Edens Wok and the salad bar.

    So don’t eat a burger and fries for every meal. Seems easy enough, right? Judging by the way the line snakes toward the grill at lunch, it appears to be a little trickier for much of the student population.

    Gina Hill, assistant professor of nutritional sciences, says that students should include more fresh fruits, vegetables, high-fiber cereals, whole grains and lean proteins in their dietary choices from The Main.

    Additionally, Hill says to be wary of portion size, as the larger portions served on campus aren’t necessarily the healthiest size.

    “Even if someone eats 3,000 calories daily of very healthy food and his or her body only requires 2,000 calories, eventually, he or she will gain weight,” Hill says.

    While the food on campus is already prepared, it doesn’t necessarily make the process of choosing healthy food any easier.

    Hill says the smartest way to eat healthy is to emulate the types of food eaten at home and not change your everyday diet too drastically.

    So how does this translate to eating off campus?

    Basically, the concepts are the same. Hill says it is important to choose foods that are closest to their original forms. This means eating chicken breast instead of chicken nuggets or a baked potato instead of French fries.

    With all the choices of eateries in walking vicinity of campus, there is no reason to resort to fast food to solve a food fix. Texadelphia, Potbelly Sandwich Works and Smoothie King all offer healthy alternatives to their fast food neighbors lining Berry Street.

    Matt Fisher, a senior economics major, says that Potbelly is a good choice for students because it’s close to campus and is relatively cheap.

    The portions served at Potbelly are the proper size for the average person’s dietary needs and can be made with low calorie condiments.

    However, eating isn’t the only thing that can contribute to a decline in health upon re-entering a campus environment and a hectic school schedule.

    Despite the ultra-luxurious University Recreation Center situated right in the middle of campus, many students fail to take proper advantage of its amenities.

    Senior early education major Elizabeth Norris says that her attendance at the Rec Center often comes and goes in spurts.

    “For a while I’ll be really consistent in going to work out, and then something will happen, and I’ll just gradually stop going,” Norris says. “It’s a vicious cycle.”

    Not only is it important to fit a somewhat regular regimen of exercise into your daily routine, it’s important that what you’re doing is beneficial.

    Most everyone who has spent time in the weight room has witnessed a beefy, or not-so-beefy, guy, checking himself out in the mirrors more than his form.

    Biology professor Mark Bloom said that the misuse of weight equipment is something he has witnessed first-hand in his visits to the weight room.

    “I’ve seen quite a few people using the weights not the way they’re designed to be used: either lifting too much or straining their joints,” Bloom said.

    Although Bloom acknowledges the fact that he’s not an expert on weightlifting, he thinks that it’s in many students’ best interest to talk to someone at the Rec Center before they attempt to lift without knowing what they’re doing.

    The Rec Center offers free weight room orientations at any time, according to the campus recreation Web site.

    Do running and lifting weights sound as fun as an 8 a.m. chemistry lab? Try one of the many classes offered at the Rec Center. A schedule of classes can be found at the Rec Center Web site, including yoga, pilates, kickboxing and step classes.

    No matter how much or how well you work out, it’s highly possible that, as a college student, you may be counteracting your efforts with another recreational activity: drinking.

    Alcoholic beverages are a major cause for weight gain among college students; the Tufts University study found that students who consumed three or more beverages weekly were much more likely to gain weight than those who did not drink on a regular basis.

    Additionally, binge drinking can lead to other health problems in addition to weight gain. No one is expecting college students to give up drinking altogether, just regulate your intake. As with any dietary issue, moderation is key.

    College weight gain is a fact of life. Changes in lifestyle and a decrease in activity levels create more opportunities for students to gain weight. Overall, the best way to combat college weight gain is to approach everything in moderation: eating on and off campus, working out and drinking alcoholic beverages.