With college comes a lot of firsts: sometimes its your first time doing your own laundry, your first time living alone, but the most prevalent is probably that its your first time choosing when and where you eat for every single meal. A result of this new culinary freedom is often the dreaded Freshman 15. However I beg the question, is the Freshman 15 actually a thing or is it rather just a scare tactic employed by our parents to ensure we continue to eat our daily servings of fruits and veggies?
You meet a lot of personalities in college, and your dining hall serves like a exhibit, displaying those personas in their most natural form. As you walk through the tables you will probably see toothpick thin girls nibbling on lettuce and sipping water, those whose recent liberation from Mom made them realize they can in fact have ice cream for dinner every single night, and 18 boys who resemble “Super-Super Seniors” balancing 10 plates on one tray. To outsiders these trends might seem to be just stereotyping, however a recent study of college students in Taiwan show a direct correlation between personality traits and eating habits. Some of the most confounding results of this study state that more neurotic people tend to eat breakfast less often, those who score high on the conscientious scale tend to stay away from desserts, and eating out for college students is heavily dependent on employment status. In regards to the Freshman 15’s legitimacy, this study found that freshmen have the least time to eat out, leaving them susceptible to unhealthy dining hall options or simply just skipping meals which slows the metabolism.
Another huge downfall in college students’ diets is a lack of fruits and vegetables, shown both in the Tawian study and a 2011 study conducted at Oregon State University. The OSU study recorded the eating habits of over 500 students, most of them being freshman, and showed that students are only eating about 4 or 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a week. The research went further and revealed that though male students tend to eat more fruits and vegetables, female students tended to be more conscientious when it came to eating healthy and skipped fewer meals. This coincides with the Tawain study, again stating that a student’s susceptibility to gaining weight their freshman year is heavily dependent on one’s traits
Ironically, malnutrition has a large factor in the Freshman 15. As presented in this article, the high cost of healthy food in combination with higher living/tuition expenses and lower incomes, cause over 59% of college students to have a phenomenon labeled as “food insecurity”. They often eat less often and when they do eat they eat unhealthy foods lacking any nutrients. This sporadic eating in addition to unhealthy choices cause weight gain, depression, and erratic behavior.
It is clear through these studies that eating habits definitely change once you enter college, especially for freshmen. Whether or not you gain the Freshmen 15 though is entirely dependent on lifestyle and the choices that you make. It might be hard to pass up those cookies in the dining hall and life is too short to stop eating Creamery Ice Cream, but you have to remember that when indulging, lifestyle adjustments need to be made to counterbalance these choices. Though taking the Bloop or Whoop to class everyday might be tempting, walking from East to Willard every morning could help to work off those late-night Pokies. So the question becomes, are you going the Freshman 15’s next victim?