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15 ways to stay healthy and avoid the 'Freshman 15'

It all comes down to the choices you makeā€”make good ones.

Fruit is a classic staple in a healthy diet and makes an easy snack for students on the go. Photo by Noemi Gonzalez
Fruit is a classic staple in a healthy diet and makes an easy snack for students on the go. Photo by Noemi Gonzalez

Welcome to college, freshmen. Enjoy this freedom from your parents and begin taking the first steps to becoming an independent, healthy adult. You are now able to choose what you eat and when you eat it. Classes will get tough and you will be introduced to new experiences and new people. Take a look at this list and use it to help you stress out less and make better lifestyle choices. 

I am not a life coach or a medical professional, and anything listed in here is just advice. Always consult your doctor and do your own research before taking anything I say here to heart.

Eat healthy at the dining hall 

Photo by Andrew Ybanez | The State Press

If you are living on campus, you most likely have a meal plan and have access to one of the several ASU dining halls across all four campuses. Each meal swipe grants you access to these all-you-can-eat buffets. Although it may be tempting to overeat and indulge in junk food, try to limit yourself. Fill two-thirds of your plate with vegetables, fruit and grains and fill the other third with meat. Wait about 20 minutes after your first plate and then determine if you are hungry for more.

Read more: How to: Healthful Eating at the MU

Cooking for yourself? Portion your meals!

Photo by Mackenzie McCreary | State Press Magazine

If you are living off campus, eating healthier might be a little easier but more time consuming. There are plenty of cheap canned foods and healthy stovetop recipes to buy in bulk whenever you go grocery shopping. It also helps to cook multiple servings of a particular meal and put them in plastic containers to save throughout the week.

Keep track of what you eat

If you have a smartphone then you have the ability to count your calories. There are countless free mobile applications to track your caloric intake. Recording what you eat helps you set goals and monitor your intake to help avoid overeating and not eating enough.

Go to the gym

Photo by State Press Photo Staff

Staying active in college could not be easier. There are fitness complexes on all four ASU campuses well within walking distance of student dorms. These facilities are paid for by your tuition and you should always take advantage of what you pay for. Each facility has a basketball court, free weights, exercise machines and some locations even offer workout classes available to all students. 

Read more: Students, faculty celebrate fitness complex grand opening

Can't make it to the gym? Do something.

Anyone can fit physical activity into their day. If you really cannot make it to the gym, there are still plenty of ways to stay active. You can do bodyweight exercises in your dorm, go out for a walk, jog or run and play intramural sports with friends. There is a time for academics, but there is also a time for getting outside and doing something.

Read more: ASU intramurals improved with REC*IT app

Don't stress

Photo by Tynin Fries | The State Press

Mental and emotional health is arguably as important as physical health. Considering all that you balance: coursework, a social life and many other things, college can be stressful for most people. Lucky for you, ASU offers counseling services for all students. The first visit is normally free, there are emergency help lines available 24/7 and any help they may charge you for is usually covered under most insurance plans.

If you have a life-threatening emergency, call 911 and if you need someone to talk to call the 24/7 EMPACT crisis hotline at (480) 921-1006.

Read More: Weekly relaxation sessions available on Tempe campus

Schedule your day

Photo by J. Bauer-Leffler | The State Press

Being a college student is a full-time job and it is important to schedule your week. You do not have to schedule it by the hour, but you should at least map out your classes for the week and set specific times for study sessions, meals and free time. Organizing your day and sticking to a routine helps you feel under control and on top of your school work. 

Don't smoke

Photo by Serwa Adu-Tutu | The State Press

If you haven't seen enough anti-smoking commercials or are not aware of the several health conditions that come from smoking tobacco, please do more research. Smoking is expensive, addictive and detrimental to your health. Also, ASU is a tobacco-free campus. Students can be fined if they are found smoking on campus. It is not worth the time, money and possible health conditions to smoke. 

Read More: ASU to crack down on tobacco-free policy

Drink water, not soda

Photo by Ethan Fichtner | The State Press

Living in the Arizona heat is tough and it is important to stay hydrated. Water is essential for the body to function properly and process calories. The last thing you want is to be dehydrated in the desert and then feel fatigued in class.


Studying for classes late at night or staying up late watching Netflix can negatively affect your sleeping habits. It is widely suggested to sleep eight hours each night in order to function properly. 

Remember the rule of moderation

Photo by Micaela Rodriguez | The State Press

A large quantity of anything can be bad for you. When you are trying to eat healthier it is much easier to eat less of something than eliminate it from your diet. So have a piece of cake once in a while — just not the whole cake.

Take advantage of resources at ASU

Photo by Andrew Ybanez | The State Press

ASU Wellness offers several free resources for students to learn about body image and eating disorders, substances and risk of abusestress management and many other common topics. The information is clearly laid out online and students are encouraged to contact an advisor with any questions they may have. 

Read more: VIDEO: ASU Well Devils

Drink black coffee

Photo by Ben Moffat | The State Press

A cup of this black liquid can benefit your health in many ways. If you need a quick fix for a lack of energy or if you are a little hungry, coffee can help give you a boost of energy and curb your appetite. This does not mean coffee is a meal replacement, in fact, too much coffee can lead to an increased heart rate and can upset you stomach. Remember: everything in moderation.

Is coffee too bitter? Have some green tea!

If you avoid adding sugar or artificial sweetener to it, green tea also has many of the same benefits of coffee. It is also a much better alternative to soda or other sugary drinks. 

Keep healthy snacks close by

Sometimes you are hungry while in a rush between classes. Taking a few baggies filled with almonds, sliced fruit or granola can give you a range of healthy snacks to munch on while on the go. You can also keep a large quantity of these at your dorm and snack when you need a little food but are not hungry for a full meal. 

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