Brief: The freshman 15

By Erin Shumlich

Starting university fresh and ready to learn, the last thing anyone wants to think about is how good times will slowly turn into a good amount of weight — 15 pounds to be exact.

But is the dreaded ‘freshman 15’ something we really have to worry about, or is it just another myth proliferated to scare new students?

Holistic nutritionist Anastasia Hendryanto said it depends on the student.

“Whenever there are any life or routine changes, things can change for the worst,” she said.

During university you might find you are more rushed and not planning meals. The worst part, said Henrdryanto, is the alcohol.

“You might find yourself being invited to more parties. Sugary drinks are the worst. Almost everyone believes [the freshman 15] to be true, but everyone handles stress differently.”

She said stress can cause a vicious circle of unhealthy eating habits.

“Eating junk food makes you feel good, but then you feel guilty.”

Hendryanto said, however, that stress can also have the opposite effect — students can sometimes forget to eat.

Second-year biomedical student Rebecca Manion said that since starting university she has eaten more junk food.

“It’s all right here,” said Manion. “It’s convenient. But I think it’s more so how much you drink.”

She said it is toughest during exams to eat right and exercise because of the elevated amount of stress during those times.

According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2008, exercise is a great means of alleviating stress and helps with stress management.

So although university can mean added stress, more alcohol and junk food, there are many outlets to combat extra weight — exercise being one of the best.

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