You gain a lot during your time at college. A new student can expect to gain new friends, new experiences, new knowledge, and, of course, new weight. While the “freshman 15” is as much myth as fact, studies have shown that nearly 75% of college students gain weight over the course of a 4-year degree.
There are as many reasons why college students gain weight as there are books in the campus library. Campus dining typically consists of fast food chains and D-grade all-you-can-eat buffets. Beer is full of calories. Mom is not there to nag.
But stress eating is one of the biggest culprits behind the freshman 15. Teens must cope with being away from home for the first time, higher academic standards, and staggering student loans. All that new anxiety sends many freshmen into the comforting embrace of a large pizza.
And stress eating rarely stops in college. Many adults use this strategy as a shortcut to get the endorphins going and drown out the stress of modern life. But weight gain and health problems are the results. So, here are quick tips for college students (and the rest of us) can use to stop stress eating:
Visit The Rec
Regular exercise reduces stress, so head to the gym when the workload gets overwhelming. It is a great alternative to the food court, but a steady workout schedule might even keep them from arising in the first place. You already paid for the rec with your student fees. Use it.
Join An Intramural Team
Tired of the treadmill? Get your exercise by joining an intramural sports club. They will reduce stress, help you lose weight, and provide a social outlet that doesn’t revolve around eating.
Remove Food Delivery Apps
Dominoes pizza tracker? Delete it. UberEats? Uninstall. Stress eating is an impulsive habit, and the latest smartphones apps make it easy to fall victim to a moment of weakness. Make it as difficult as possible to chase a craving you will regret.
We eat more when we’re sleep-deprived to make up for lost energy. A lack of sleep may cause stress even in those without anxiety disorders.
Talk To A School Counselor
Don’t try to manage your stress by yourself. If you are self-medicating with food or alcohol, it is a good idea to talk to a campus therapist. They are usually free and will help you deal with your stress in a way that doesn’t involve daily sugar binges.
Don’t Keep Unhealthy Snacks Around
This seems obvious, but you are more likely to stress eat if you have snack food lying around. Keep bags of chips out of your dorm room and ice cream away from your mini-fridge.
Know Your Triggers
Knowledge is power. If you are conscientious about what’s triggering your stress, you can help figure out what’s causing you to stress eat. Obviously, it is impossible to avoid stressful situations, but if you are mindful of what’s happening you might have more control over your actions.
Meditate & Do Deep Breathing
The best way to drown out racing thoughts isn’t with a slushy and a burger. It is with mindful meditation. Most rec centers offer free yoga classes, but you can do breathing exercises anywhere. They lower your stress levels and help you regain control when anxiety gets overwhelming.
Take A Walk
You’re in a dark library study carrel and panicking about tomorrow’s exam. Even though you just ate dinner you are tempted to head to the vending machine for a candy bar. But a better option is a walk around campus. Stepping away from your work is a good idea, just don’t head to the vending machine. A walk will help you clear your thoughts and calm down. That’s why geniuses like Einstein walked every day.
Visit the Sauna
Find some creative ways to relieve stress. One way is to visit the steam room at your rec center. Saunas and steam rooms are healthy ways to decompress at the end of a long day.