ATTENTION: Freshman 15 ahead. Proceed with caution.

You’ve probably heard horror stories about those pesky calories sneaking in through late night pizza runs and the endless dining commons buffet. Let me tell you the truth: Freshman 15 is very real, and it’s going to be difficult to fight it with buffalo chicken cheese fries and Freebirds nachos being so easily accessible. And while it’s totally okay to indulge in I.V.’s comfort food, here are some tips to avoid the dreaded Freshman 15.

Jessica Bixby / Daily Nexus

  1. Limit yourself at the dining commons. I get it: It’s difficult to resist trying everything. But grabbing a plate of every dish may not be a good idea. Suddenly, you’re either stuck with five plates of uneaten food or you’ve finished everything and regret all your life choices.
  2. Drink water, not soda. Again, the dining commons are complete with fountain drinks and even hot chocolate, but plain old water is a safe and healthy choice if you want to make your body happy.
  3. Don’t skip breakfast. If you’re grinding on that research paper all night, it’ll be tempting to get a few more minutes of sleep in the morning and just go straight to class. But breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It wakes up your metabolism and provides energy for your brain and muscles, so even if you’re in a hurry, at least grab a piece of toast and a banana on your way to class.
  4. Stock up on healthy snacks. No, I’m not saying to keep a bag of spinach in your fridge. Healthy snacks just mean anything with good proteins and carbs to fuel you for those long study sessions.
  5. Watch out for binge snacking. You should probably skip out on keeping a family size bag of Hot Cheetos in your dorm to avoid binge eating during 2 a.m. Netflix marathons. Maybe try getting some sleep in, too.
  6. Take advantage of the Rec Cen. UCSB has not one, but TWO gyms for its students, and stopping by for a short workout a few times a week will help you to stay active.
  7. Eat with other people. It’s easy to overeat when you’re alone, and eating with friends is an easy way to keep each other accountable.
  8. Don’t neglect sleep. Massive amounts of schoolwork on the weekdays and late nights out on the weekends tend to make us forget that our bodies need rest. Make sure you’re on a consistent sleeping schedule because disruptive sleeping patterns lead to weight gain.
  9. Do mini workouts in your room. If hitting the gym isn’t for you, consider working out in the dorm. You can do this during study breaks or even in between episodes of “The Office.”
  10. Get motivated to exercise. You can get paid to work out through Health Guardians of America. Their program FitLifeFlow awards users with a monetary reward if they go to the gym at least three times a week.
  11. Drink your coffee black. Caffeine is a life-saver in college, but is all that sugar and creamer necessary? No, not when you’re trying to avoid the Freshman 15. Also, drinking black coffee can prove beneficial for your physical and mental health.
  12. Don’t multitask while you eat. Try to avoid being on your phone or studying while you’re eating a full meal because you’re likely not to pay attention to what you put in your body, which tends to lead to overeating.
  13. Skip the diet fads. If you do see yourself putting on a little weight, don’t resort to a detox plan or a raw-food diet. People prefer the quick-fix solution to their weight gain, but these fad diets don’t help you keep the weight off in the long term. Instead, practice portion control or do more research on a diet that is tailored to your specific health needs.
  14. Eat slowly. You might be in a rush to get to class, but remember to take your time. Scarfing down that bowl of Lucky Charms isn’t the best idea if you’re watching your weight since people who eat too quickly often consume too many calories before realizing they’re full.
  15. Remember that everything is okay in moderation. Relax and don’t be so stressed out about gaining weight. You don’t have to stick to a strict diet plan the moment you step foot on campus, but just make sure to watch what you’re putting into your body and stay as active as you can!
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