What 'First Year Spread' is and how to avoid it
Whether you’re staying in res or living in a commune (digs), I’m sure you have expectations of how the next few years of student life will be. I understand that you will be mainly focused on your school work but make sure you don’t neglect your body as well. Some of you may have heard about it and some of you will know about it from today. But, ‘First Year Spread’ is when first year students put on a lot of weight within the first year of university/college.
So, what causes this sudden physical change?
One reason may be caused by the change from high school to university/college. It is normally a stressful time for some because you’re away from home and there is pressure academically and socially. Don’t worry, that’s normal chomas. That is why most students find it easier to eat unhealthy foods to cope with this change.
Studying can cause a lot of anxiety. I understand how much pressure there is for you to pass your first year but pay attention to the meal you have. Is it too sugary, too oily or has too much salt?
Have you heard people talk about how unhealthy most alcoholic drinks are? Well, that’s because they have a lot of calories (the amount of energy in food). Drinking too much may result in you gaining weight. I’m not saying don’t go out and socialise chomas, but beware of the number of drinks you have every time you go out, ok?
There may be students staying outside of res who may not have equipment such as a fridge or a stove. This prevents them from keeping fresh foods or making meals. This may also contribute to weight gain because most foods that take long to go bad without being in the fridge are foods like coffee creamers, biscuits or chocolates which are bad foods. So if you can, save money for a small fridge and a two-plate stove.
The amount of schoolwork – assignments, exams and tutorials -, the social life and the huge amount of freedom can be too much. As a result, you may not be able to put in that extra time to prepare healthy meals. You may even skip breakfast and grab an unhealthy lunch like chips and cool drinks after morning lectures. Then later in the evening have an unhealthy dinner with no vegetables. This contributes to weight gain.
How can you prevent ‘First Year Spread’?
Replace poor eating habits with good ones, replace your biscuits and chocolates with fruits or find a hobby; start walking or learn to play a new instrument. If you enjoy playing sports, then find out if your college/university has sport teams or activities for you to join. You may eat fast foods once in a while but keep your portions small and choose the healthiest option, whether you stay in res or live in a commune.
If you live in a commune, try and convince your housemates to cook with you – it might be fun! Cook enough food so that you can pack lunches for the next day, instead of buying something unhealthy on campus. If you feel stressed, get out of your room for a walk or visit a friend. For snacks, stock up on fruits; they’re delicious and, more importantly, healthier. If you don’t like the gym then look up exercises online.
I know it’s going to be difficult in the beginning, but you will thank yourself by the end of the year.
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