How to Beat the Freshman Fifteen

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle while attending college is often seen as a difficult task. The “freshman fifteen” phenomena occurs because schools provide a relaxed environment that allows students to eat whatever they want, whenever they want. Many students struggle to strike a balance between eating conveniently and healthy.

Yet students have more options available to them than they realize. There are many things that can be done in order to stay fit while in college. Meal options aren’t just limited to a quick slice — students at New Paltz also have the option to create their own salads, order a sandwich or pick up a prepared vegan meal. The school has many support systems for students to reach out and better their health too.

Use the Resources You Have

Students at New Paltz have access to an on-campus nutritionist. Emily Ferencik specializes in the treatment of eating disorders and uses principles of mindful and intuitive eating in her work.

Ferencik believes that students need to set aside time for themselves so they can work on their health.   



Cecilie Braadt is a retail dietician for ShopRite in Uniondale, New York and consults with people on what to eat.  “My number one recommendation is to utilize the gym,” Braadt said. She works with different age groups and holds classes to teach people how they can change their eating habits. It is not always an easy start but with some help she believes that any student’s goal can be reached.

What to Eat:

Ferencik counsels students to help them improve their eating habits. She recommends the 90/10 rule. This means that 90 percent of what a student eats should be whole foods and the 10 percent should be anything for pleasure.

Ferencik also recommends students stick to the Simple Servings section in Hasbrouck Dining Hall. Everything there is steamed or baked and balanced for those who want to reach for healthier options.


Braadt recommends MyPlate, the industry standard in teaching meal portion strategy. Sponsored by the USDA, MyPlate consists of half a plate of fruits or veggies, a quarter of  the plate with protein or grains and three servings of dairy per day.

She also suggests resisting the urge go back for seconds. In order for a person to lose or maintain their weight, Braadt says sticking to lean proteins, adding high fiber and drinking water are key.

“Drinking water before a meal prepares your stomach and protein fills you up, but you have to remember that less protein is better,” Braadt said.

Braadt says fruits and veggies offer the most nutritional value, and that it’s best to leave the skin on because the skin contains all of the nutrients.

Braadt also says that a rewards system may be useful in achieving one’s own fitness goals. If you enjoy sweets then have that cookie, but make sure to continue eating healthy for the rest of the day.

Pick a Plan and Get Started

Alex Pavlock is a first-year student at SUNY New Paltz and he tries his best to stay fit and healthy while living on campus.

“I think people should eat less food, cut out the sugar and eat more vegetables,” Pavlock said. “As for the gym, I would recommend speaking to a trainer at the gym or just looking up a program online.” This is what helped him when he was overweight.


Pavlock admits that he was not always the healthiest person, but his desire to do better in sports is what motivates him. Pavlock plays for the club rugby team on campus, so it is imperative that he stays in shape. For him, staying in shape is important in order to be able to run around.  

The key to staying healthy is being committed says Braadt. This may seem difficult, but it can be done. Ask a friend to go with you to the gym and motivate each other.

“A support system is key for any person who wants to be healthier,” Braadt says. “Find someone who will be there with you and encourage you to make the right choices because in the end you are bettering your health.”

Paula Piedrahita

My name is Paula Piedrahita and I’m from White Plains, New York. I’m a third-year double major in journalism and communications with a minor in Spanish. I also have an unconditional love for food.

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