JJ Virgin: As back-to-school season approaches, another crop of eager college freshmen prepares to invade campuses across the country. While studies show that the "freshman fifteen" is really an exaggeration, many students do gain some weight due to stress-eating and the lure of that all-you-can-eat dining hall, fully stocked with carb bombs like pizza, pasta and pastries. How can you help your college freshman avoid packing on the pounds? Read on!
Sure, you want to show your son or daughter that you're thinking about them while they're away at college. But skip the so-called "nutrition bars," the sugary baked goods and the microwave popcorn. (Sorry -- I know it's a college staple, but it's not a healthy snack!) Instead, send them raw nuts, turkey jerkey, green-tea bags, steel-cut oatmeal and Emergen-C packets. Also, make sure they have a blender (I bring my Magic Bullet wherever I go) and a high-quality protein-shake mix.
Encourage your college kids to get moving and get their z's.
College can be stressful, and exercising is a great way to ward off stress and get involved on campus. If your kids aren't into collegiate or intramural sports, encourage them to sign up for a fitness class (many colleges include fitness classes in the tuition) or make a regular workout date at the campus gym. And while college students are notorious for keeping crazy hours studying, your kid will feel a whole lot better on eight hours (or more) of sleep. In fact, most students do better on exams after having a good night's rest vs. pulling an all-nighter. Let them know that while you value academic achievement, you also value their physical and emotional health.
Don't dwell on dietary missteps.
Often it's the students who had the strictest parents who go the craziest once they're unleashed on campus. But if they see you maintaining a healthy perspective on food, they're more likely to make healthy choices themselves. For instance, the best dessert is fresh fruit, but if you must cave in to temptation and have that slice of chocolate cake, then enjoy three ladylike bites and push it aside. Don't let the occasional indulgence derail you entirely. Remember: You are the best role model for your kids -- and yes, they are watching!
©2010 JJ Virgin & Associates, Inc. Celebrity nutrition and wellness expert JJ Virgin is a media personality, in-demand public speaker and best-selling author of "Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy: The 5-Step Plan to Sleek, Strong and Sculpted Arms." Get her biweekly LEANzine chock-full of tips to get you slim and sexy fast at jjvirgin.com.