How to Avoid the Freshman 15

Written by IWG Intern Sabrina Barrett 

Congratulations! You’re going to college. You’ve found a roommate, you’ve planned your classes, but have you figured out how to avoid the infamous “Freshman Fifteen?” Here are some easy tips and tricks for maintaining good health in between those midnight pizza runs.

Beware of Bars

Protein, that is. Although protein or granola bars make a great snack when running to and from lectures, they are packed full of sugar, gluten, and many other unsavory ingredients. To avoid spiking your blood sugar, opt for a brand of bars that doesn’t add processed sugar or sugar alcohol. Better yet, grab a banana or a handful of almonds for a healthy on-the-go snack. Plan meal times into your schedule so that you don’t have to substitute lunch with a bar.

Get Crafty with Caffeine

Coffee will soon become your best friend; it fuels the energy of most college students. But, if you drink it all day long, you will build a tolerance to the caffeine. Rather than drinking your coffee right when you wake up, wait until your cortisol levels dip naturally. These dips usually occur around 9:30AM, 1:30PM, and 5PM. By getting strategic with your consumption, you’ll avoid building a tolerance, and will feel less of a crash when the caffeine wears off. Stick to regular drip coffee and espresso, as mochas and frappes contain more sugar than most candy bars!

Work the System

Most colleges offer a meal plan for incoming freshmen. Typically the plan will consist of meal swipes for the dining hall, and some form of “cash” which can be used at vendors around campus. Know how many meals you are allotted per week, and scope out the healthy spots around campus. The dining hall can be overwhelming, as the buffet style presents new students with many options. Use a smaller plate to avoid taking more than you can eat, and start your meal with a salad before hitting the pasta station. Find out what your dining hall’s policy is on Tupperware; if it is permitted, stock up on fresh fruits and veggies to keep in your dorm for quick snacks. Don’t be afraid to get creative!


On my first day of college, an upperclassman told me that I could have good grades, a social life, or a healthy sleep schedule. “Pick two.” Sleep became less of a priority when I was trying to balance my course load, my commitments on campus, and my friendships. I quickly realized that if I’m not well rested, I accomplish very little. Lack of sleep has been shown to contribute to weight gain as well as a lack of mental clarity. To stay sharp, schedule naps, and aim for a full eight hours during the night. Be on top of your assignments, there is never an excuse for an all-nighter! Listen to your body and prioritize your health.

Move It

Staying active is integral for good health. Not only does exercise keep you in shape, it releases stress-relieving endorphins. Most colleges offer a wide variety of club sports ranging from Ultimate Frisbee to Quidditch. These are a great way to meet new people with similar interests while getting exercise. Keep in mind, working out doesn’t have to be a chore. For me, going for a run sounds like torture, but yoga helps me feel relaxed and confident. Find what feels good for your body and stick with it.

I hope this tried and true advice helps you stay healthy during this exciting new phase of your life! Please share your tricks for incoming college students in the comment section below.

Sincerely a Healthy College Kid,

Sabrina Barrett