So if you are wondering: “Hey Christine, are you a certified nutritionist or dietician?” No, no I am not. Therefore, please take all of this with a grain of salt. Thank you.

If I asked a room full of incoming freshmen, “Who has heard of the ‘Freshmen 15?’” I would expect the whole room to raise their hands. College is when the Freshmen 15 hits you. Coming to Syracuse University, I had certain doubts that this was true – I soon found out it was indeed true.

If you are one of the few who are unfamiliar with this term, let me explain it to you. When incoming freshmen are thrown into college, they are given a precious gift—the gift of freedom. With free reign, freshmen can do anything they want (in legal boundaries, of course). Freshmen can live without curfew, skip class, and eat whatever they want, whenever, with whoever. With this power, it is the common case that freshmen will eat poor foods packed with sugars and fats that contain no nutritional values. This is where the “Freshmen 15” comes into play. It is stated that freshmen will gain about 15 pounds their first year. From personal experience, this is quite true.

To the incoming freshmen, do not be scared. It usually is not all 15 pounds. Most people just gain a few pounds here and there, but this is normal. At a new environment with new food, it is harder to adjust and gaining weight is normal. Therefore, I first advise you to come in with an open mind and not be scared of what might inevitably happen. If you understand that this is a possibility, you can take action to combat it.

Firstly, when you enter a dining hall, do not gravitate towards all of the greasy, fried, extra-saucy foods that catches your eye. Obviously those will look more appetizing than the plain salad bar, but eating salad as part of your meal is not that bad. You can help prevent the “Freshmen 15” by cutting part of your fried, salty, or greasy food and adding a leafy salad that will fill you up with nutrients. If you think about it, how amazing is it that you have the option of having a fresh salad bar with a wide variety of ingredients and dressings? Take advantage of it! Just go easy on the dressing.

Secondly, when you are coming home late from class and all you want to do is order some Dominos with your friends, you will most likely do it. There is no doubt about it. However, just keep track of how often this happens. As college students with no curfew, we thrive late at night. Midnight becomes our early evening. Ordering food at 1am is the norm. Nevertheless, it is not healthy to be eating so late at night. At home, we eat dinner and maybe a snack before heading off to bed. In college, you order Chinese late at night and go to bed in the wee hours of the morning cramming for tests or finishing essays.

Lastly, the third tip I will leave you with is to go and take advantage of the gym. This is an amazing opportunity for you to go and try out the machines and free workout classes. Most of the time, the gym membership is free for students, (if your school makes you pay, shame on them) and it is conveniently on the campus for easy access. By going to the gym for even a mere 30 minutes will keep you motivated to reach for healthier food options and stay in shape. Do not be afraid to take everything your school offers because you are paying for it!

I am human. I do not go to the gym every week. I have moments when I fall apart and choose the sugary chocolate cookies. I go days, maybe weeks with loss of motivation that influences me to guiltily avoiding the gym. I like to order food late at night with my friends. Due to all of these factors, I did gain a couple of pounds; however, I do not regret doing any of these. This is college, and I am here to experience. I am here to grow and learn more about how to use my freedom to become someone I am proud to be. I have motivational slumps, but I learn to move past them and find inspiration in becoming a better me. I order pizza late at night, but I get to make more memories with my friends. It is important to understand the “Freshmen 15” and make changes to prevent it. However, with fear of the “Freshmen 15”, do not limit yourself of living. These 4 years will fly by quick, so use these tips to fight the scary “Freshmen 15,” but do not be afraid to gain a few pounds if that means you are just living the fullest.