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Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Back to School Weight Gain: How Can You Avoid It?

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Parties and late night meals may be a normal part of the college experience, but don't let poor eating habits weigh you down. It is now the first week of August, which means that summer is almost over back to school time is lurking just around the corner. The beginning of a new school year is always exciting, and whether your kids are in pre-school or heading off to college, this is a time of year that symbolizes change.

I remember how sad my parents were when I left to go to college, but all I could think of was freedom and no curfew! While this is a time for many kids to grow into young adults as they "leave the nest," so to speak, it can often be a challenge. College students can struggle with control and also with tough decisions about nutrition and exercise, and fall prey to the dreaded "Freshman 15."

But it's not just about a few extra pounds. Making the wrong choices— whether it’s with alcohol, binge eating, or lack of exercise — can be detrimental to your health. 

While we all know obesity is on the rise among younger children, the trend is often overlooked when it comes to young, college-aged adults.

 Recent statistics also showed that the percent of overweight and obese American college students increased from 27.4% in the fall of 2006 to 29.2% in the fall of 2011, according to the American College Health Association. That means based on BMI these kids fall between 25 percent body fat and up. I understand it’s the norm to go out, drink alcohol, eat pizza or fried food, and to not be on a schedule, but by doing these things college students are putting themselves at risk for poor health. Poor eating habits are often coupled with less physical activity, a toxic combination when it comes to your health.   

To all new and returning college students, check out these tips to help you establish some healthy habits and begin building the foundation for a lifetime of good health. Enjoy the upcoming school year and focus on staying active and eating well to fuel your studies!

  • Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables
  • Don’t skip breakfast or meals -- this will prevent your from overeating later
  • Pack snacks and eat mini meals throughout the day
  • Limit fast food or at least make healthy choices by relying on resources like this book from Dr. Jo
  • Incorporate exercise into your daily routine at least 4-5 days a week
  • Have lean protein with all your meals
  • Go for whole grains
  • Hydrate – carry a water bottle with you
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Tags: Healthy Eating

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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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