Say buh-bye to the Freshman 15

Our bodies are made to store fat. Don't look at me like that, they are. It's a mechanism that was built inĀ waaay back in the day to help us survive when there was no food. It makes sense: food was scarce, so you would gorge when you could and your body stored what you didn't need right away as fat so that it could use it when you didn't get to eat for a long period of time. It's just, nowadays, we don't have to wait days before our next meals anymore, but we still have the ability to store fat. And whoooo boy, do we know it. Freshman 15, probably two of the most dreaded words (well, before essays and exams start to set in anyways) you'll hear when you're at university. How do you avoid it? How do you lose it? How do you keep it off? "The best way to lose the freshman 15 is to not gain it," says Dr. Richard Bazinet, Assistant Professor and Undergraduate Coordinator at the Department of Nutritional Sciences. "But sometimes, students don't realize they've put on 15 pounds until they've put on 15 pounds." Isn't that a cheery thought. But really, it's okay. Take a deep breath. Breathe again. You'll be fine. You've probably heard about eating a "balanced diet" before, and it's true. Eating healthy (and thereby losing, maintaining, or gaining weight) is about balance. I know I know. I can hear the whines already: but it's hard, Cynthia. I'm totally guilty of it too, especially at parties and/or over the holiday season. But if eating healthy was easy, well, dieting wouldn't be one of the most popular things ever. Richard told me that it's not what you eat between Christmas and New Years that counts, but what you eat between New Years and Christmas. Here are some tips Richard gave me: What are some things that you can do?
  • take walks instead of meeting somebody over coffee
  • keep an approximate mental tally of your daily net calorie intake
  • use a BMI calculator to check your classification. Yes, if you're a hard core athlete, you'll register as obese (because muscles weigh more than fat), so use common sense
  • use a BMR calculator to see the amount of calories you need daily, and eat 400 cal less or more depending on if you want to lose or gain weight
  • remember that energy expenditure is the other part of the equation to keeping the Freshman 15 off. Even 20 minutes of exercise a day will help you burn some of the extra calories
What are some stealthy food/drinks that are loaded with calories*
  • as I like to call them, the good tasting food: chocolate bars, chips, pizza... junk food
  • alcohol. alcohol has lots of empty calories, especially when you're mixing it with fruity drinks. When you're at a party with a solo cup in hand, it's really hard to keep tabs on how much you drink
*note: Richard stresses that it's not that you can't eat these foods. You can, but you should be aware that their calories are often equivalent to a quarter to a third of your daily caloric intake, so make sure the rest of your diet is balanced and you are exercising. What can you eat/drink more instead?
  • fruits and vegetables! There's the two most oft-forgotten food items by students, says Richard.
  • nuts and seeds: peanuts, cashews, sunflower, pumpkin... the choices are endless.
  • water: Toronto has the best tap water ever. It's government regulated and close-to-free at most places, and completely zilch in calorie count!
What are some of your healthy eating tips? Share them with me! Oh yeah, if you want to know the actual science behind nutrition, take NFS284H1 - Basic Human Nutrition from the Department of Nutritional Sciences. Also, I know you're dying to ask what that blob of a thing is in the picture above. It's a baby Adipose from Doctor Who. Basically, they are aliens made out of fat. They're cute.

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