Whether it’s breakfast at noon or dinner at 10 p.m., Cipullo stresses that three meals a day are essential to maintaining a healthy and balanced weight. Skipping meals often leads to slowing the metabolism and overeating — a double negative in the world of weight gain.
For those of you who find it hard to go between meals without a bite, Cipullo says it’s fine to plan for snacks, and that two is usually a safe number to go by. Afternoon and nighttime are the best times to plan for snacks, and she also points at that sometimes these "snacks" often mean a slice of pizza before bed, which is OK, too.
If you’re at the legal drinking age and plan to have a beer or two, Cipullo warns to never drink on an empty stomach. The best practice is to eat a full meal and then start sipping the brews, which will help you eat an entire, nourishing meal without becoming too full from beer.
Cipullo is so firm on this piece of advice, she insists on giving it twice. Not only does drinking on a full stomach make sure you’re well fed, it also helps you avoid drinking on an empty stomach, which leads to over-drinking and late-night binge-eating, because the alcohol is absorbed much faster on an empty stomach.
If you’re planning on bringing a car to school, Cipullo says to ditch it as often as possible. Physical activity such as walking or even biking to class or around campus will help you stay in shape and keep the pounds off.
While it’s everyone’s instinct to stave off eating exactly what they want when watching their weight, Cipullo encourages you to eat what you like. Eating to your cravings makes sure you’re satisfied and helps you avoid grazing, which can lead to even more weight gain.
While the campus cafeteria is a convenient stop in between classes, make sure to hit up the grocery store or the local farmers’ market for seasonal and fresh produce, too, says Cipullo. Even eating raw carrots from your tiny dorm room fridge can be a healthier option than what the cafeteria might have to offer.
Cipullo encourages freshmen to join all physical outings and activity clubs available to them when starting off at college. Not only is it a great way to meet new people and make friends, but it’ll help you make sure that you’re getting healthy physical activity outside of keg stands on the weekends.
Just because it has a lot of calories doesn’t mean you should all out avoid it, says Cipullo. She encourages freshmen to have fun but be reasonable and balanced. Joining your dorm’s pizza party one evening? Feel free to indulge and just make sure to get some exercise or stick to a healthier meal plan the next day, she says. Extremes are never healthy, so better to try and be balanced.
Along with maintaining a balanced eating style, it’s important to do the research and know what works for you. Cipullo recommends experimenting at each café and food option on campus to find the freshest and best-tasting meals, so you know you’re making smart decisions every time.
If you can’t stand your meal plan at the cafeteria, don’t just skip meals. Cipullo encourages you to figure out what works for you and to make it fit into your lifestyle. If you can’t stand the cafeteria’s spaghetti, then buy a frozen meal at the grocery store and join your friends at the cafeteria for a salad or dessert.
Speaking of which, always save room for dessert. It’s no mystery why dorm staffers usually schedule ice cream socials for new freshmen, says Cipullo, because having your sweet treat at the end of the meal is all part of keeping a balanced diet.
One of the best things about college is being able to choose your classes, so be strategic with that power. Schedule one "healthy class," such as yoga or some type of athletic class. This will ensure you’re getting your exercise and will give you a mental break from the books, too.
With new social settings, a college curriculum, and the pressures of keeping a balanced diet while being away from home, it’s easy to become homesick. To help avoid it, always touch base with home, and even go as far as to request those trusted care packages from mom when you need them. Comforting things like family pictures, a card from mom, or her awesome chocolate chip cookies will help keep you focused.
If your freshmen year diet is starting to stress you out, distract yourself from it. Cipullo recommends creating a "Distractions Card," which lists your top five non-food activities that will help you take your mind off it.