Fight the Freshman 15 and More! Hints for a healthy college start …

Note: This post is intended for the soon-to-be college student. You’re welcome to read it, Mamas, but that’s beside the point …

Before you go … Don’t forget the pre-college physical, including immunizations. You may need a tetanus booster,  meningitis vaccine, HPV vaccine, and a flu shot. Get it done and prevent catching something scary while you’re living in close quarters.

Start early and focus on staying healthy from the very first first day on campus. It’s the best way to develop healthy habits. When you get to college every aspect of life is completely different, so it’s important to set up good habits from the beginning.

Eat healthy … Keep an eye on your calorie intake (the average college student will burn about 2000 cal/d) and load up on fruits and vegetables. The freshman 15 is no joke, but no one ever got fat snacking on the green stuff at the salad bar. Avoid processed foods with heavy doses of fat and sugar and don’t keep crappy snack food in your dorm room — you WILL tend to overeat when things get rough. Drink water (not sweetened drinks). Gallons of it. Get lots of exercise, which will help with your stress level, too (see below).

Sleep! Sounds like a cliche, but nothing good happens when you’re sleep deprived. Shoot for 8 hours a night. Extra tip: your eight hours don’t have to be all in a row. Don’t hesitate to grab an afternoon nap to supplement what you missed the night before.

Stress Kills! College is hard and everything is new. Stay mindful about your stress level and look for help if you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or worried about your mental state. College years are the peak time for the onset of emotional stormy weather, so nip problems in the bud by reaching out to your college’s mental health service.

Have Safe Sex. Your mom and dad may think you won’t be sexually active until you’re 30, but I know better. 25% of college students are infected with an STD at some point during the college years, so don’t let it be you. Know the risks and get educated about healthy sex and birth control. One bad decision here could change your life forever.

Last, and this is big, remember to stop, look around, and inhale the aroma of higher learning. This wonderful stage of life won’t come around again, at least not in this form. Enjoy it and take full advantage of every opportunity. It will help keep your head (and body) in harmony. Seriously.

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.

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The Mama ButtonThe information provided by MamasOnCall is not intended as a substitute for professional advice, but is for information purposes only. You assume full responsibility for the health and well-being of your family. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical or psychiatric condition.