Freshman 15: A side effect of stress in your first year

Gabriella Pinos/Staff Writer

Stress: the genetic makeup of an average college freshman. It’s no surprise that new students have trouble coping with five classes, new roommates, job applications and exams.

On top of that, making new friends and choosing a major makes freshman year seem like a horror movie. But what some students fear the most is the infamous side effect of it all: the Freshman 15.

The term refers to the 15 pounds students gain during their first year, and it’s why many FIU students avoided eating Chick-Fil-A everyday their first semester.

While gaining weight your freshman year sounds frightening, it’s not as severe as some make it up to be. In fact, the Freshman 15 has long since been debunked by research and medical journals.

No more than 10 percent of college freshman gain 15 pounds or more, and a quarter of them lose weight during their first year, according to Reuters.

Despite the buzz around college students, sudden increases in weight gain can happen to anyone going through a new experience in their life, according to NBC Miami.

If anything, it’s stress that students should watch out for when starting the next chapter of their lives. Whether students commute to class, live on-campus or come from overseas, the change in environment from high school to college is a massive one.

High school seniors often graduate with personal, social and academic expectations for college life – all of which are expectations that aren’t met once they start their first semester, according to the Huffington Post.

This freshman myth, as it’s called, leaves students struggling to adjust their new schedules.

So, while gaining a few pounds during freshman year isn’t something to be terrified about, it can arise as a byproduct of packed schedules and failed expectations.

That extra stress can lead to night-eating behaviors and weight gain, according to Stress & Health Journal. Thankfully, dealing with these changes doesn’t have to be a challenge, and freshmen don’t have to go through it alone.

If you’re feeling burdened by schoolwork or personal struggles, FIU has services specialized in student health and counseling. Student Health Services provides resources for stress management on their website for free, as well as dietary consultations for weight management and meal planning.

There are also in-person appointments and doctor visits available for students in the Modesto A. Maidique Campus and the Biscayne Bay Campus.

There are other services students can take advantage of to take their mind off things, such as yoga classes at BBC, acupuncture appointments at MMC and massage therapy.

If you’re extra concerned about weight gain your first year, signing up for a meal plan can help with cutting back calories, according to NBC Miami.

FIU has a variety of restaurants and stores which offer lots of healthy options, from Salad Creations at PG5 to the fresh smoothies at Jamba Juice.

A quick look at also provides a list of vegan and vegetarian choices in the restaurants available in the MMC and BBC campus, making healthy eating even easier.

But more than anything, freshmen need only to follow one simple rule: don’t overwhelm yourself. Instead, see your first year as a time for self-discovery.

Explore your career options, learn from your peers and make your next four years as a Panther as memorable as possible.



The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.


Photo by i yunmai on Unsplash.

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