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OPINION: Gaining the 'freshman 15' isn’t something to be worried about in college

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Daniyal Arshad | The Daily Wildcat

A view of the food court in the Student Union Memorial Center on Jan. 26, 2017.  

There are many things that are worth stressing out about (at least a little bit) while in college. Worrying about a midterm could motivate you to study more, which could cause you to get a better grade on the exam, or stressing out about a job application could help you prepare enough to receive an interview request. 

One thing that you shouldn’t worry about during your first year of college is gaining the “freshman 15,” the dreaded 15 pounds one is thought to gain in their freshman year of college. However, not everyone shares the same opinion. 

There are articles and videos all over the internet that inform readers on how to avoid the dreaded and notorious weight gain. For example, one article from BU Today advises college students to walk more, to avoid skipping breakfast and to get enough sleep in order to avoid the “freshman 15.” 

There isn’t anything inherently wrong with most of the tips provided. In fact, these are all great things to do if you want to live a healthier lifestyle and take care of your health. A lot of college students don’t get enough sleep that they need, and there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with walking to campus. 

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Another tip that a lot of articles give is to avoid binge drinking, which also isn’t bad advice. About 50% of college students who consume alcohol engage in binge drinking, which can have dangerous consequences such as unintentional injuries and alcohol poisoning. So advising college students to drink less alcohol, or to drink it more responsibly, is a positive thing. 

However, the desire to binge drink less or walk more on campus shouldn’t be because you’re afraid that consuming too much alcohol will make you gain weight. The “freshman 15” should be one of the last reasons that you decide to not engage in binge drinking. Your health and wellbeing is more important than the fact that drinking alcohol might make you gain a few pounds. 

Yes, your weight can play a factor in your health. Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce your risk for a lot of ailments, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. However, just because you gain weight during your freshman year of college doesn’t mean that you’re no longer a “healthy weight,” and weighing less also doesn’t make you “healthier” overall. 

The only person who can tell you what is and isn’t good for your health is a medical professional, not an article online or a video on TikTok. And if you’re doing everything in your power to avoid gaining any weight in college, is that really “healthy?” 

Sure, you may be eating a salad for lunch and dinner everyday, but what if your friends want to go out for a midnight ice cream run? Or if someone invites you over to watch a movie and eat pizza in the dorm living spaces? 

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I know that I gained weight my freshman year of college. I ate grilled cheeses from Steak n’ Shake and veggie burgers with a side of fries from The Den on a regular basis, especially when there was a stressful exam around the corner. I snacked on popcorn, and I gave myself permission to just eat more than I let myself eat in high school. 

With the permission to eat more, I was also able to have more experiences my freshman year of college. I didn’t say no to brunch bagel runs or dinners with friends. There are so many experiences that I would have missed out on if I had been excessively worried about watching my weight and keeping the number on the scale steady.  

Your weight might fluctuate in college, and that’s perfectly fine, but what isn’t fine is stressing out so much about avoiding the “freshman 15” that you forget to live in the moment and enjoy your freshman year. So don’t be afraid of gaining some weight if it means you’ll be having a good time at college. 


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Emma is studying English and creative writing. In her free time she likes hiking, baking and writing short stories.


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