Every college freshmen looks forward to the newfound freedom, new friends, and new dorm room college life brings, yet with those exciting experiences comes the oh-so-dreaded freshmen fifteen, a haunting threat looming above. It’s easy to say “I eat whatever and never gain weight” or “I’ll watch what I eat,” yet those few pounds happen to the best of us, even those with fast metabolisms. A friend of mine ate whatever she wanted during high school and did not believe in the freshmen fifteen until she went home last year during winter break and had gained almost fifteen pounds, going from one-sixteen to one-twenty-nine.
Homework and activities get in the way of exercising, and one thing leads the next and before we know it, our favorite pair of jeans don’t fit anymore. But the key to avoiding the freshmen fifteen isn’t only diet or exercise, but knowing how to handle your emotions and stress during the first year of college, and understanding how food and emotion go hand in hand. Once you’ve mastered that, you’ll be set.
We all need food to sustain us, and there are many things in food that affect our emotions. The composition of the food combines with the atmosphere around us to indicate how we feel, and what we eat. As most people know, sugar makes you hyper. But it’s not just any sugar, it’s specifically refined sugar. A child who eats tons of sugary snacks will have a lot of energy, but then will crash. That is because refined sugar is absorbed rapidly into our blood stream, causing spiking levels of blood sugar. High blood sugar leads to feelings of contentment, but as the blood sugar drops, we get impatient, irritable, and sometimes physically aggressive. The reasons for this are very primitive, and relate to “when being hungry was a signal to aggressively hunt for food” (Challem 36). So we search for the quick fixes like soft drinks, candy bars, bread, muffins, and bagels, which harmfully keep us in that cycle of high energy and crashing.
In order to stabilize our mood and energy, we need protein and fiber. These stabilize blood sugar levels because they take longer for our body to process. We will not get the “quick fix” that carbohydrates offer us, but our energy will last longer. More energy leads to a better mood and therefore a much more pleasant day for everyone. From the experience I have had, extremely hungry people are not ones you want to be around. Foods like eggs, fish, chicken, turkey, and other lean meats are full of high-quality protein, and fruits and vegetables such as salad greens, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale, raspberries, blueberries, kiwi, and apples are all extremely high in fiber (Challem 36). Eating meals containing quality protein and high-fiber is key in any healthy person, but especially in college freshmen, because as our bodies are going through the changes college life brings, they need a steady flow of energy, not a fluctuating one.
As most college students know, stress...