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5 Ways to Get Fat in College

"I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it." Mae West


Updated May 07, 2013

3. All You Can Eat! I don't know about you, but the cafeteria at my university provided tons of yummy food and unlimited amounts of it. I learned the hard way that going back for seconds was quickly adding some bags to my saddle. After a long day of mind-numbing classes, your body will try to trick you into eating something fattening to perk you up.

Kicking the Habit. First, visit the USDA's MyPlate to brush up on the basics of healthy eating. Some simple ideas are to fill up on vegetables and fruit and choose whole grain breads and pastas. Eating foods that are grilled or steamed rather than fried or sautéed will also help you avoid extra fat. Eat slowly and savor every bite and you'll find it easier to avoid that second trip down the pasta line. Oh and watch the salad dressing, which can have up to 150 calories per serving.

4. (Yawn) Late nights. Lack of sleep can also contribute to increased appetite and weight gain. When you're sleep-deprived, you're much more likely to revert to the kinds of food available only through dollar-sucking machines. It's inevitable that you'll experience some late nights, so what can you do to minimize the damage?

Kicking the Habit. The only way around this one is to try as best you can to get good, quality sleep. This may require saying no to late night parties or changing your schedule to get your studying in earlier, but it also means your body will function in peak condition. It helps if you have regular sleeping habits like going to bed and getting up at the same time each day.

5. No Exercise. In high school, you may have been the star of the track team or a pretty decent football player. Now that you're in college, you may find that your daily activities consist of watching your favorite soap opera and rooting through your roommate's grunge pile for a spare bag of potato chips. Now is not the time to stop exercising. You don't have to train for a marathon or anything. Just finding ways to move around everyday can help stave off the extra pounds.

Kicking the Habit. Even if you're busy, you can still find time to exercise. Walking from class to class qualifies, as does running up and down stairs. But you should also try to get more structured exercise like jogging around campus or hitting the gym for strength training. Most schools have some type of fitness facility (usually free to students) and some even offer free personal training. Don't forget, strength training can help raise your metabolism by adding some lean body tissue. If you can't seem to drag your butt to the campus gym, you don't need a lot of equipment to get a great workout. Try these workouts you can do right in your dorm room or apartment with little or no equipment needed:

For more exercise tips, visit my Beginner's Corner and find facts on working out and links to workout ideas.

The trick to enjoying your freshman year is a mixture of planning, mindfulness and enjoyment. It's tempting to go off the deep end, what with all that intoxicating freedom surrounding you. But, what you want to strive for is moderation. Have fun, enjoy your freedom, but make smart choices. It's easier to do this when you surround yourself with like-minded friends. Make friends with people who won't pressure you into having one more drink or one more slab of pie and you'll find avoiding temptation that much easier.


Racette, Susan B., et al. Weight Changes, Exercise, and Dietary Patterns During Freshman and Sophomore Years of College. Journal of American College Health 2005; 53: 245-251.

Holm-Denoma JM, et al. The "freshman fifteen" (the "freshman five" actually): predictors and possible explanations. Health Psychol. 2008 Jan;27(1 Suppl):S3-9.9

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