Don’t Gain the Freshman 15: Staying Trim When You Go Back to School

While the freshman 15 is so common that it has become integrated into the network of college lore, you don’t have to take it as a given. Leaving home for the first time means protecting yourself from the unexpected: identity theft and weight gain are two that come to mind.

In addition to using common sense when using unsecured networks, sharing public computers and living in crowded dorms, having an added layer of security from a third-party monitoring agency like Lifelock lets you—and your parents—focus on the positives of college life. We know you’ve heard this before: Credit card companies love to woo young people like you, but resist temptation and use common sense.

We‘ll skip the common-sense advice about walking to class, biking around campus, getting eight hours of sleep and counting calories. Yawn. Here’s what we like to call “Things We’ll Really Do”:

1. Skip the Bun

Your mom won’t be around to prepare three balanced meals. You’ll look for quick and easy fixes, like fast food and heat-and-eat processed foods. Look for ways to cut calories: Downsize the fries, go bun-less and add fresh veggies instead of syrupy sauces. According to CalorieKing.com, a whole-wheat bun carries 120 calories, 2 grams of fat and 18 grams of carbs. McDonald’s reports a small order of fries has only 230 calories, 11 grams of fat and 29 grams of carbs, while a large has 500 calories, 25 grams of fat and 63 grams of carbs.

2. Best Hangover Foods

Why does late-night drinking make you ravenously hungry the next day? Alcohol is super high in carbohydrates, which throws off your body’s blood sugar levels, according to Webmd. When you have low blood sugar, your body wants food. Lots of it. Common sense says not to put yourself in the position where you’ll have a hangover, but we all know that common sense for college students comes a little later. To feed your cravings, look for healthy lean proteins like chicken and egg whites and add fresh fruits.

3. Soda or Water?

The calorie punch packed by a can of soda is sizable, particularly if you down numerous sugary beverages each day. One can of Coke packs 90 calories and 25 grams of sugar Mountain Dew has 106 calories and 28.8 grams of sugar and Monster Energy has 200 calories and 54 grams of sugar. Check the labels closely: That can of Monster? It has two servings. Water is always the best choice for quenching thirst.

4. Munchies

Chips and candy store well in your dorm room and have long shelf lives. We get that. They are packed with fat and high in sodium. We know you get that. So, what should you do to satisfy cravings for crunchies? Webmd suggests portable and healthy snacks such as peanut butter, granola bars, pretzels, baked tortilla chips and high-fiber dry cereal with nuts and dried fruit.

Keeping the weight off can, in fact, be as easy as buying that Lifelock plan that will keep your identity safe. Instead of admitting defeat and heading to college with pants a size larger than you currently wear already in your suitcase, dedicate yourself to avoiding the urge to munch away that the hectic and stressful college environment and keep your svelte figure.