Avoiding the "freshman 15"

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When it comes to college experiences, few are as dreaded as the freshman 15. 

Baylor Dietician Roberta Anding, a professor at Rice, says “they have the ‘chronic buffet,’ they go into a cafeteria, and the food is all out there.”

One of the things she teaches is portion control.  She tells them to divide their plate, putting a meat and starch serving on one half of the plate, then veggies and fruit, on the other.  “We've got half of the plate fruits and vegetables, the other half of the plate, you need to have a fourth of that plate protein, and a fourth of the plate starch.”

When she shows them a serving size of pasta, they are usually stunned.  “Most of the time people are surprised, they say ‘that's it?’ But this is a standard serving, this is a half a cup serving.”  Not sure how to measure a half cup?  Use your hand as a guide, your palm is about a half cup.

Student Martin Rather is learning the ropes in her “Health 101” class.

“Too much of a good thing is a bad thing,” says Rather, you need to have everything in moderation.”

For meat, a serving is the size of a deck of cards.  Eggs are another good protein source, and Roberta says protein at breakfast is important.  Nuts are high in protein,  but also high in calories. 

“They're about 300 calories for a half a cup,” says Anding, “so you have a half a cup in the morning half a cup, half a cup in the afternoon, pretty soon you’ve exceeded the caloric intake for a woman.”   Just two cups are 12 hundred calories.  Roberta recommends pre-packaged portions of 100 calories each. 

She also suggests stocking easy-to-grab snacks, like hummus with pretzels, fruits and veggies, greek yogurt, or unbuttered microwave popcorn.

Rather is learning to plan ahead.  “I like to pack string cheese, “ he says, “it's a great item, and it's easily portable.”

Another sneaky cause of weight gain is all those high-calorie liquids students love, like like sugary drinks, and alcohol.  They don't call it a beer gut for nothing.