Have you heard college students joke about the “Freshman 15”? The 10-15 pounds on average that students can gain throughout their college years is no laughing matter. These students are the future of our country and obesity contributes to deadly, costly health problems later in life. To reach this technology-savvy generation, here are some tips on leveraging smartphones, tablets, and social media avenues to stop the “Freshman 15” before it starts.
There are countless free smartphone and tablet apps available to help students make healthier lifestyle choices. What all these apps have in common is that you can choose to receive daily or weekly notifications to ensure compliance and motivation. Here are a few places to start:
BMI Calculator (iOS, Android) is an app that can determine your BMI (Body Mass Index) and a healthy body weight.
All-around fitness applications, such as MyFitnessPal and Lose It! (both available for iOS and Android) help you keep track of your nutrition program in one place. You can learn how many calories your body needs based on entering your height, weight, age, gender, and physical activity level. By scanning the barcodes of labels with these apps, it can also record food and beverages and calculate their nutritional information at the same time!
ShopWell (iOS) can customize your favorite recipes and calculate their nutritional contents or create grocery lists where the list gets sorted by food groups.
Run Keeper and Nike+ (both available for iOS, Android) record and track all your exercise, encouraging you to run that extra mile by tracking your distance, and to knock down your personal best by calculating your speed in miles per hour at the same time.
Remember to tweet, post, and e-mail your way to a healthier college experience!
College can be a very stressful time between academic, social, and environmental pressures. Many unhealthy behaviors accompany high stress levels including poor diet, increased alcohol intake, lack of sleep, and decreased physical activity. Students have to be responsible to make their food choices whether it’s buying food for their dorm rooms, going to the cafeteria, or eating out. Additionally, college campuses typically contain convenience foods that are inexpensive, tasty, served in large portions, and accessible around the clock.
The current generation of students will benefit from interactive learning opportunities that offer continued guidance and support on how to prepare healthier meals even during stressful periods, such as final exams. College is the perfect time to explain and cement the idea of healthy eating before students fully transition into the real world. Students are open to notions of change as they reexamine their lifestyle choices and can be encouraged to implement healthful changes. Following reputable health professionals or reliable news sources that post on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn can serve as reminders for healthful living.
Author Aimee Zipkin received her MS in Nutrition and Public Health from Teachers College, Columbia University and completed a rigorous clinical dietetic internship through North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System. Aimee has a passion for mouthwatering food and nutrition education. Follow her on Twitter at @AimeeZipkin.