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Staving off the Freshman 15

By Celeste Meiffren
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
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In the hysteria of settling in, meeting people and starting school, it is easy to lose sight of nutrition.

The Freshman 15 is not just an urban legend. It happens. But fear not; there are ways to avoid sudden weight gain without missing out on college culture.

It is a proven fact that the cheapest and most convenient food is usually the worst nutritionally.

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Campus Health

A cheeseburger is much easier to come by, and often better tasting, than a meal prepared in the dorms.

Eating meal after meal at a fast food place may do wonders for the wallet, but it certainly doesn't for the waistline.

So it is important to be health-conscious, despite your newly found independence and increased intake of beer, birth control and pizza.

In the "Nutrition, Food and You" NATS course here at UA, the first lesson learned is that as long as a diet is balanced between the food groups, everything will be OK.

As we all know, the five basic food groups are dairy, meat, vegetables, fruit and bread and grains.

If the diet is balanced between these five basic food groups throughout the day, coupled with some exercise, the Freshman 15 will stay a safe distance away.

The second lesson learned from the nutrition course is that the foods that typically contribute to the Freshman 15 are beer, fast food, fried food, soda, pizza and pretty much any food high in fat or high in carbohydrates.

These foods are OK to eat once or twice a week, but not in excess.

No one wants to end up like the guy from "Super Size Me:" fat, with high cholesterol and a pickled liver.

Campus Health Service has created a "Health Education Online Library" at

Healthy food and drink choices
  • water
  • flavored water
  • milk
  • juice
  • weak tea
  • fresh fruit
  • salads
  • lean meat sandwiches
  • whole grain cereal
  • yogurt
  • This library has resources for everything related to health, including nutrition. There are a handful of very helpful articles, including one called, "Nutrition Tips for Busy Students," written by the nutrition counselor for Campus Health, Gale Begeman.

    However, most students are too busy to even go online and look for nutrition options, so I will share the tips given by esteemed nutrition professionals here at UA.

    The first tip is to "eat when hungry, stop when full."

    It seems obvious, but it is easy to fall into the trap of mindless eating.

    Everyone has found him or herself in front of the television, confused and grabbing at the bottom of the empty bag of chips they just opened.

    The next tip is to drink fluids throughout the day.

    Make sure the fluids are going to prevent dehydration.

    The best option is, of course, water.

    Other good choices are milk, juice, weak tea and flavored water.

    Soda, alcoholic beverages, juice, lemonade and other fruit drinks do little but force you to intake a lot of calories with no nutritional value.

    There a few easy ways to get the nutrition you need around campus.

    First is U-Mart. U-Mart sells fresh fruit, salads, sandwiches, juice, water, cereal, milk, yogurt, etc.

    Although the prices are hiked a bit, it is conveniently located in the Student Union Memorial Center, so you can grab a bite to eat between classes.

    Another option for eating healthy is the kosher deli "Oy Vey Café" located in the Hillel Center next to the Harvill building.

    It has fresh and kosher food, which equals healthy eating.

    Oy Ve Café, On Deck Deli and Bruegger's Bagels all offer healthy food.

    The Cactus Grill also offers a salad bar, fresh fruit and home-style meals.

    In her pamphlet, Begeman gives a few tips on how to eat at the student union at fast food places and avoid high fat items.

    Instead of a cheeseburger with mayonnaise, have a hamburger with ketchup. Instead of a burger, have a grilled chicken sandwich. Instead of a "salad" sandwich, have a sandwich with lean deli meats. Instead of fries, onion rings or regular chips, have baked chips or pretzels.

    However, the best way to eat healthy for cheap is to go grocery shopping.

    Those tiny dorm refrigerators actually hold a lot. The wallet and the waistline will both agree that fresh and homemade food is the best option.

    For more information on nutrition, visit the Campus Health Web site at and visit the Health Education Online Library or enroll in NATS 104: "Nutrition, Food and You."

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