When I was in the first few years of college, I was SO unhappy with my body and my weight. I didn’t want to just “accept my body” because I knew I would be more confident and comfortable a few pounds lighter.
I would look at my friends and be so jealous. Why couldn’t I just look like that? They were eating chocolate and pizza and takeout. It felt really unfair.
It took getting my PhD in behavior change, coaching hundreds of women and seeing what worked, and what didn’t work, to come up with a customizable system that kept me, and my clients, at our ideal weights, for the LONG term!
And, most importantly, I finally was able to figure out what I really wanted – true happiness and bliss, and a mind free of food thoughts. There is so much more to life than constantly thinking about food, SO MUCH more!
Let me share here some of what I learned!
How To Lose Weight In College
Did you gain the “Freshman 15”? Are you worried about gaining it? I’ve even heard of it referenced as the “Freshman 30” now.
A college setting absolutely poses some difficult situations surrounding food – such as:
dining hall buffets where students fill their trays with calorie-dense foods
late night munchies after parties
study sessions at 3am with a pizza
every social situation having a food component (e.g. club meetings)
And that many students are strapped for cash – and cheap food is often inexpensive, doesn’t help much!
However! There is room for hope 🙂 College can be an excellent place to build new habits that will last your lifetime. It’s the exact right time to start – to learn what works for your body, and develop new, sustainable habits.
Losing weight in college is doable and manageable. We’ll focus on:
Breakfast: fueling your day appropriately
Snacks: make them count without grazing
Dining Hall Strategy: we’ll create a plan for these buffets, and you’ll be good to go
3 Ingredient Meals: yep, 3 ingredients is all you need to create a filling meal and save lots of money
Stress Eating: there’s nothing worse than eating when stressed, and then feeling additional stress that you’ve overeaten & are feeling bloated. We’ll make a plan for this as well.
Alcohol Plan: I won’t pretend that you aren’t drinking! All you need is a plan in place so you can enjoy time with friends without going overboard
How To Lose The Freshman 15
Ok so let’s get more into the details here about how to master each food situation so you can lose that unwanted weight.
BREAKFAST: The Right Start
You might think I’m going to talk about the dangers of skipping breakfast. But that’s actually not always valid! Some people are just not “breakfast people” – they just don’t get hungry for breakfast.
If that’s you, I actually would NOT force yourself to eat – skip breakfast if that works better for you. And I’m sure by now you’ve heard of the benefits of intermittent fasting – so you’re getting some bonuses, too.
Now if you are hungry for breakfast, by all means let’s eat some food. We want to focus here are foods that will keep you full for hours. Primarily, proteins, fats, and complex carbs. Here are some easy grab & go breakfast ideas!
2 hard boiled eggs + 1 piece of fruit (like an apple, pear, etc.) + 1 string cheese
2 hard boiled eggs + 1 single-serving packet of guacamole
2 fried eggs + 1/2 avocado
1/4 cup of nuts (or get a 1-ounce pre-packaged baggie) + 1 piece of fruit
1/4 cup of nuts + 1 string cheese
1 latte with 2% milk and sugar-free syrup and 1/8 cup nuts (or a 100-calorie pack)
One 2% plain yogurt + 1/3 cup frozen fruit
SNACKS: make them count
A lot of snack foods (yes, including protein bars!) are really just junk food. Which is of course perfectly fine to eat sometimes, but when we want to feel our best, it’s better to focus on high quality foods for our healthy snacks – like fresh fruits and vegetables, proteins like hard boiled eggs and nuts, and filling fats like a string cheese or baked cheese “crackers”.
Nuts or nut butters: Throw 1/4 cup in a baggie, or buy single-servings packs – roasted & salted Is fine by me.
Hard eoiled eggs: Did you know hard boiled eggs last a whole week? Make a dozen on the weekend (only peel them when you’re ready to eat them).
Single-serving cheeses: I love string cheese and other single-serving cheeses like slices of cheese or round cheese in wax. So filling and tasty!
Jerky: Seriously one of my favorite filling snacks. So tasty and great protein.
Greek Yogurt or Skyr: These great single-serving options are full of high-quality protein, often probiotics, and are usually great sources of calcium. Get plain or or lower sugar flavors if you can.
Baked Cheese “Crackers”: Many companies are now making baked cheese “crackers” – or what look and taste like crackers, but are only made of cheese – so low carb! I absolutely love these, and they’re non-perishable so you can keep them in your bag for a long time.
Veggies & Single-Serving Packet of Guacamole: Guacamole is an excellent, filling fat, and the to-go packets are life-savers because they last a long time and don’
t go brown. Try dipping carrots, cucumbers, or celery in a packet.
I also recommend making a snack schedule – with substantial sized snacks! Otherwise, we end up getting hungry again too quickly, and grazing throughout the afternoon or evening.
DINING HALL STRATEGY: 2-1-1 method
Use my easy 2-1-1 method when you’re in the dining hall next! The “2-1-1” method is referencing your fists.
2 “fists full” of veggies like lettuces, broccoli, peppers, green beans, etc.
1 “fist” of protein like chicken, steak, salmon
and 1 “fist” of starches like potatoes, rice, pasta
Fat is usually cooked into meals in the dining hall, so I wouldn’t worry about getting enough oils or butter.
Let’s also talk about drinks (non-alcoholic) as well. If we had some fruits, and we blended them up and made them into a smoothie, studies show you’d be psychologically, and physiologically less full on the smoothie. So instead of choosing sugary drinks like sodas or orange juice – which super spike our blood sugar, choose something like seltzer, green tea, or water with lemon.
Next, try to spend no more than 30 minutes in the dining hall. This was a real problem for me & my friends! We would spend hours in the dining hall just as a place to hang out – but then absolutely ended up eating too much.
Last, try to take some fresh fruit with you when you leave. Dining halls usually allow this.
You heard my right! All you need is 3 ingredients to make a filling meal. Here’s my “formula”, which many people refer to as #thatformula:
At least 2 cups of veggies (about 60 calories)
100-200 calories of fats
4-5 oz protein (about 120 calories)
That’s it! Let’s look at some examples:
We have, above, in order:
Cheesy Shrimp: Cheese (fat) + shrimp (protein) + broccoli (veg)
Caprese Salad: Fresh mozz cheese slices (counting here as both the fat & protein) + tomato (veg)
Baked Eggs in Tomatoes: Shredded mozzarella (fat) + eggs (protein) + tomatoes (veg)
It’s that easy! Yes – you can absolutely add herbs & spices, or a little balsamic drizzle like in the caprese salad, but that part isn’t necessary.
This way of eating is so much healthier, cheaper, and even faster than fast foods – and often even dining hall foods.
Stock Your (Mini)-Fridge Right
Keeping healthy snacks and foods in your dorm room cabinets and mini fridge is key. Here are some ideas, and here’s a more complete list.
frozen veggies like broccoli
frozen proteins like shrimp
nuts, seeds, and nut butters
And of course our whole grain carb friends like oatmeal and whole grain pretzels
Stop Stress Eating
Again – there’s nothing worse than eating when stressed, and then feeling additional stress that you’ve overeaten & are feeling bloated. College is the perfect time to create better eating habits. Here are some things to do:
Plan ahead of time as much as possible. If you can avoid staying up until 3am studying, that is absolutely the best case scenario. Don’t save your studying to the last minute. Plan out your study schedule ahead of time.
Get some liquids. Fill up on decaf teas, seltzer waters, decaf coffee, that type of thing.
Learn that eating will not solve your problem. Yes, eating provides a short relief. But it’s not a long-term relief, and you’ll end up feeling bloated and uncomfortable afterwards.
Talk with someone. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, talk with a counselor or your parents. You don’t have to be stressed all by yourself! Others are here for you.
ALCOHOL: Slow Down, but have more fun
One of the most cited reasons for why college students gain the freshman 15, is the excessive alcohol. And, once cutting out the extra drinks, people do often lose weight. The good news is – much of the weight gained from alcohol can be lost quickly as water weight (since alcohol, similar to carbs, stays on our bodies held in place by excess water).
Here are some ways to still drink and enjoy time with friends, but not go overboard.
Set a limit to the # of drinks you’ll have in a week
Alternate alcoholic drinks with seltzer to keep yourself hydrated
Pour half drinks instead of full drinks as an easy way to get another drink, but not be drinking so much
Move More Without Going Overboard
It’s pretty much fact now that exercise is NOT a healthy weight loss technique. When we overexert out bodies, our body’s natural response is to become more hungry to replenish our muscles. And then it’s too easy to overeat the calories we burned.
Walking to class instead of taking the shuttle and taking the stairs instead of the elevator absolutely count as physical activity. Try to get in at least 8000 steps, and move your body at least 30 minutes. Again – it does not need to be intensive exercise!
If you are looking for the EASIEST and most realistic weight loss program – that works for the LONG term (it incorporates weekly meal plans, how to stop stress & boredom eating, AND an accountability group) – check out my program HERE!