How to avoid the dreaded Freshman Fifteen

I remember freshman year. You promise yourself you’re not going to be one of those girls who gains the “freshman 15” and that you’ll eat healthy and work out every day. It doesn’t happen, well at least it didn’t for me. Not that I actually gained 15 pounds but I do admit I indulged a little bit too much at the all-you-can-eat cafeterias and packed on a few pounds. I wish I had known what alternatives I could have taken and the many resources my University offers. I wish I had talked to people like Joann Miller of the Student Health and Wellness Center about how to stay healthy on a budget in college earlier. But hey, better late than never right?

Michelle Ngo (MN): Today we are talking with Joann Miller who is a dietitian at Student Health and Wellness at the University of Iowa. The Student Health Center offers free appointments with dietitians like Joann to all university students to discuss current eating habits or concerns and to work towards setting new nutritional plans or goals. I’ll be asking Joann questions on how to make health conscious choices with a college gal’s budget. Let’s start off with a question most freshmen want to know, what can they do to avoid gaining weight while living in the dorms?

Joann Miller (JM): So you can actually take Ramen noodles which is a common college food and make it into a whole meal that’s just a little bit healthier by adding some protein. So we actually do that by adding some peanut butter and some vegetables to the Ramen noodles. Everyone has really liked it but we also talk about some other simple things you can make in your dorm room either as snacks or as part of a meal, things like a potato or baked sweet potato. So you can eat in your room and make a decent meal and get a variety of things so you’re not just eating Ramen noodles or just the mac and cheese in a dish type of things.

MN: For people who live in apartments or have their own kitchen or even Mayflower, what tips do you have for healthy eating that doesn’t break the bank?

JM: Doing things like using coupons to shop, looking for what’s on sale, trying to buy things that are in season. If you’ve got storage space in an apartment buying things in bulk so like buying a big bag of frozen chicken breast. But just focusing on fruits and vegetables and focusing on lean protein, limiting how much convenience food you use and limiting eating out.

MN: What ideas do you have for switching out junk food snacks for healthier options?

JM: You can do fun things with fruit like make a smoothie, which makes it more like ice cream. You can take a banana and freeze it. Some people like to then dip it in chocolate or peanut butter. And for salty snacks, looking for lower fat salty snacks. Things like pretzels, crackers, even whole grain low fat crackers you can have instead.

MN: I know there are a lot of diet plans that become popular, what are your opinions on that?

JM: All the research says that diets don’t really work. Everybody can lose weight on a diet but the goal is to lose weight and keep it off. Most people gain the weight back plus more from diets. So to lose weight or to maintain weight it’s really about focusing on healthy eating, healthy balance of exercise. “My Plate” recommends you try to have half your plate be fruits and vegetables, and then a quarter be grains and a quarter be protein. Just trying to improve that balance is a good step towards having a healthier diet. Your weight’s going to be at a healthy place for you, which might not be as thin as the models or your friends.

MN: We’ve just spoken with Joann Miller, a dietitian at University of Iowa’s Student Health and Wellness. If you want to hear the full interview, check out my SoundCloud account. I hope her tips were helpful and thanks for listening!

To schedule an appointment with Joann, you can call 319-335-8394 or email her at joann-miller@uiowa.edu. For other information on student health resources, you can visit the Student Health and Wellness homepage.

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