March 2, 2009

The Freshman 15

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The little orange pack of crunchy noodles glares at me. I sigh and succumb to the ugly food I’m about to put in my body. Ugh, college. There is just some moments where I have to put my forkful of dignity down and dwell in the bottom of my lowly bowl of ramen. After all, it’s really cold outside and this “soup” is really warm. Out of a moment of pure laziness, I pour the packet of preservatives into the steaming microwaved noodles and crawl into bed to write ¬reconciliation for this dreadful act to the great world of foodies.

Freshman year was a bad year for me. A little older and a little wiser, I can now look back at the year from hell and laugh at the extra ten pounds I packed on. A naïve eighteen year old, I pulled up to campus promising myself straight A’s and a trip to the gym everyday. And then reality punched me in the face. During the long, lonely nights at the library, I leaned on cinnamon scones and caramel lattes for support. All that got me was a sweet set of love handles and a massive pair of thunder thighs. Now, fifteen pounds lighter and armed with my soy crisps and green tea, I am bound and determined to debunk the phenomenon that is the dreaded “freshman fifteen”.

Cornell’s division of nutritional services at Gannett Health Center contributes gaining the freshman fifteen to skipping meals, consuming alcohol and high calorie foods, the lack of sleep, stress, and large portion sizes. David A. Levitsky, professor of nutritional science and psychology, has done extensive research with hopes of demystifying the weight gain that occurs during the first years of college. His study produced results that estimated that 4.2 pounds of weight was gained per person in his sample Cornell freshman population during their first twelve weeks on campus. Levitsky attributes this fairly shocking number to the all-you-can-yet dining halls and easy access to junk food. Stress, a fairly prevalent feeling here at Cornell University, has also been found to be a likely culprit for weight gain. Also, weight and fat accumulation, as well as chronic stress, have also been linked to decreased functions of the reproductive system. In addition, the lack of sleep has been linked to an increase in appetite, an unfavorable change in glucose metabolism, a higher risk for diabetes, and significant weight gain. While most studies suggest that the “freshman fifteen” may be an over exaggeration, a distinct correlation has been observed between students entering college and an increase in body fat.

Freshman, heed my warning. Ramen noodle soup is bad. The greasy french bread pizza sub from the Hot Truck will go straight to your hips. The ooey-gooey chocolate chip cookies from Insomnia Cookies will probably give you an equally doughy belly. Gumming down a pound of barbeque chicken from Wings over Ithaca is a great recipe for the love handles you strive to avoid. Now, don’t get me wrong – it’s a Cornell tradition to gobble down these greasy treats every once in a while. But don’t let the temptation and stress consume you. There is always a healthier option sitting right next to the double chocolate fudge that gapes at you from behind the case at Libe Café.