Warning: The Freshman 15 is Real

Do you hear people crack jokes about the freshman 15? Well, it isn’t a joke, it can really happen.

Living in the residence halls is glorious because of their cafeteria food. Most colleges offer the amazing all-you-can-eat meal plan. For example, the University of Iowa offers 5, 10, 14, or 20 meals per week.

With an unlimited supply of soft-serve ice cream, fluffy Belgium waffles, tasty pizzas, pastas, grilled cheese, juicy burgers, tacos, crab rangoons, and so much more, there’s no question why the freshman 15 exists.

Double batch of country-fried steak, mashed potatoes, buttered corn, and extra gravy: that’s what did it for me. Yes, I’m apart of the club 15.

I went from being extremely active and having nutritious home cooked meals made by Mom to sitting in my dorm or classroom and eating pasta everyday because it had the shortest line.

The extra weight in college is a choice. You don’t have to gain anything if you don’t want to; you just need to realize what to do and avoid early.


Just because you can eat the whole cafeteria doesn’t mean you should. Many people aren’t use to the fact that all your favorite foods are in one spot and you can have as much as you want. This is overwhelming but relax. The food isn’t going anywhere so don’t let your eyes get bigger than your stomach. Take smaller amounts of food and eat what fills you. Remember you will have more meal plans for the day that you don’t want to waste.

Remember Breakfast

You know the saying, “eat your breakfast, it’s the most important meal of the day.” Well, this is true. Don’t sleep until your first class at noon. Get up and get your breakfast so you’re energized and ready for the day.

Not eating in the morning revs up your metabolism. When you skip breakfast, your brain is telling you that you aren’t ready for the day. You continue to drag yourself through the day until later when your body has used up all its stored energy and then you binge at your meal.

Healthy Options

Soft-serve ice cream, burgers, and pizza might be mouth-watering and what you want but eat them sparingly. There are other foods you have to choose from beside fried, fatty, and greasy stuff. A salad bar is usually set up that I recommend you take full advantage of. After my first 10 pounds, I realized that I needed some greens on my tray. I started to eat a salad at each dinner.

Fill up on vegetables, fruit, and leaner meats, like chicken. Indulging in some ice cream of pizza is okay once in a while, but make it only a treat.


Most cafeterias aren’t open all the time. Nighttime cravings result in wasting change in the vending machine for Cheetos and Snickers or calling in some Chinese or Dominos. Save the money for your laundry. Stock up on healthier snacks such as:

  • Fruit—apples, bananas and oranges usually last long.
  • Granola bars—I eat Belvita bars. They fill you up and are so yummy!
  • Yogurt
  • Pretzels—make sure whole grain is the first ingredient.
  • Popcorn—stay away from theater butter though.
  • Trail mix
  • Sandwiches—more of a meal but better for you.
  • Peanut butter—use these spreads on fruit or simply on a piece of bread for a sweet treat.


Being on your own means making your own decisions. Once I came to college, I didn’t want to work out every day like I did in high school. Especially after doing homework or studying, the last thing I wanted to do was go to the gym.

Don’t take that break. Jump right into the habit of working out everyday, or even a couple times a week. During your semesters, the stress that builds up can weigh you down, literally. Do some cardio for 30 minutes and believe me when I say you will feel so much better.

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Gina Stolzman

Gina Stolzman

Gina Stolzman is a senior at University of Iowa pursuing degrees in Journalism and English. Having a passion for food, she loves cooking and visiting restaurants. Besides cooking, you’ll find her reading, catching up on TV shows, or hanging out with friends and family. She is an enthusiastic Chicago fan. She devotes herself to “da” Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls and White Sox.