Jessica Dean and Robin Rodriguez

So you’ve made it to Cal Poly and you’re living in the dorms away from friends, family and, most importantly, Mom’s home cooking. While it may seem like it’s your time to go all out and eat what you want, think again.

All those late night trips to Taco Bell and midnight snacks at Vista Grande will eventually sneak up on you and before you know it, you’ll be faced with the dreaded “Freshman 15.”

Many freshmen find it hard to keep good eating habits while living on campus, but it’s not as challenging as it seems. Here are some tips to help you on your way.

Tip No. 1: Make time for meals. Try to eat three meals a day and a snack or two. If you give yourself a 20 minute block to sit and eat your meal, you’ll have the energy that you need to get you through your busy day without a high-calorie snack attack.

Tip No. 2: Eat balanced meals. It’s important to eat combinations of grains, dairy, fruits, vegetables and meat or beans every day. For example, instead of Chick-Fil-A sandwich and fries, opt for the Char-grilled chicken sandwich (or a wrap from Garden Grille) and a baked potato or some steamed veggies. This will save you some calories and the grilled chicken sandwich will still be just as tasty. You can also swap your white bread for whole grain breads when you’re ordering a sandwich from City Deli or the Sandwich Factory. And can also grab a piece of fruit instead of cookies for dessert.

Tip No. 3: Don’t forget the dairy. Your bones are still growing into adulthood and need calcium, so it’s important to include dairy in your diet. Pick up some milk, yogurt or string cheese during the day. If you are lactose intolerant, you can substitute enriched soymilk or soy “yogurt” (available at Campus Market).

Tip No. 4: Stay hydrated throughout the day. A stressful day of running around can wear you out and a soft drink will only dehydrate you more. Drink water even if you are not really thirsty, because waiting until you are thirsty can signal that you are already dehydrated.

Tip No. 5: Chose appropriate portions. Restaurant portions food are usually more than one serving. So plan on taking the other half of your meal home with you, or split it with a friend. When you are eating on campus, take smaller portions to start off with and go back for seconds if you are still hungry.

Tip No. 6: If you’re hungry a few hours after eating dinner while you are studying in the evening, keep some healthy snacks in your room. Drop by Campus Market and pick up granola bars, trail mix, microwave popcorn, mini boxes of cereal, pretzels, peanut butter, crackers, or fresh fruit. Keep foods like string cheese, yogurt, pudding, and hummus and pita bread in your refrigerator.

Tip No. 7: Set aside time to exercise.

Jessica and Robin are senior nutrition students and Peer Health Educators. They can be reached at ahealthyhabit@gmail.com

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