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Going back to school in the fall is a major lifestyle change for many students. Instead of the active lifestyle of the summer, the new norm becomes focused around food, snacks, partying, lack of sleep, and stress or comfort eating. When struggling to lose weight during college years, some choose bariatric surgery in Houston as a way to regain control of their rising weight.

Studies have shown that 70% of students gain weight at school, with gains between 12 and 37 pounds reported.1 Of even greater concern was the fact that most of this weight was fat tissue, rather than increased muscle mass or normal growth patterns.

However, it is possible to follow some of the same tips and guidelines to reduce the chance of gaining the “freshman 15” and keep yourself at a healthy weight when you go back to school. Consider these tips to make a smooth and healthy transition between home and school.

1. Establish Good Eating Habits Early

female student sitting on a beach with a laptop

With newfound freedom from supervision, some students overindulge on junk foods and high-calorie snacks, especially when eating from vending machines. Stocking a small fridge with healthy options like yogurt, and fruit and vegetables will keep your healthy habits from home going strong.

Eating three or more small meals per day is the best way to fuel brain activity and maintain a healthy weight. The gastric sleeve diet is really a modified and more intense version of this method. Spreading calories out into small meals encourages better metabolism and less fat storage. Having small and healthy snacks tucked into your backpack can make eating decisions easier.

You should eat slowly, taking at least 20 minutes for each meal to allow the chemical signals of feeling full to reach your brain. With tight class schedules and busy social lives, students can get into the habit of eating as quickly as possible and, therefore, eat more than they intend, which causes weight gain.

2. Avoid High-Calorie Drinks

While paying close attention to food intake and choosing healthy snacks, many young people drink more high-calorie liquids than they realize when they head off to college. Energy drinks and soda are often very high in sugar and can add pounds without making you feel full. That is one reason these types of liquids are not recommended after weight loss surgery.

Black coffee can be a low-calorie choice, which also may boost metabolism and reduce hunger, but sweetened coffee with cream or fancy pumpkin latte can really add calories when it’s a daily habit. Better choices include water with lemon, unsweetened iced tea, or low-calorie drinks.

Alcohol is another source of extra calories, Drinking six beers adds a thousand calories to your day. avoiding Alcoholic drinks is the best you can do for your health and weight.

3. Beware of Buffet Binging

The dining hall is essentially a giant buffet, and this style of eating can lead to weight gain. No matter what you feel hungry for on any given night, chances are there will be something on the buffet to satisfy that craving. Without the natural limits of what is being served at home and what is available in the refrigerator, you can consume more calories over time without even realizing it.

Walk through the dining hall and make your choices before you start to fill up a plate, and try to have at least half of that plate filled with fruits and vegetables. Try a soup and salad course first, and return for a small main course only if you still feel hungry. After bariatric surgery in Houston, many patients learn to ask for smaller servings at restaurants as a new lifestyle habit.

Fast food and late-night meals are another source of up to thousands of additional calories per day. For most students, the key is not to deny yourself pizza and burgers, but to enjoy them in small portions and as a replacement, rather than an addition to, their daily diet.

4. Keep Exercising

young woman with tablet computer in the park

Physical exercise is the other side of the weight-loss equation. Balancing your calorie intake with your exercise level is essential to maintaining a healthy weight. Sitting in lectures, studying hard, and getting in your lab time can leave you feeling tired, but daily exercise increases fat burning, improves endurance, and gives you more energy in the long run.

Some fun and easy ways to get moving again include finding an exercise buddy, joining a group for broomball or ultimate Frisbee, or signing up for a physical class for credit. Tennis, golf, skiing, or running can be casual, rather than competitive, and they offer chances to meet and socialize with other healthy and active people.

Going to the gym also gives you an opportunity to weigh yourself regularly. You can use a phone app to track your weight and see encouraging progress or trouble on the horizon. Reversing a small weight gain with new strategies is much easier than trying to lose 10 or 15 pounds once it has been gained.

5. Nix the All-Nighter

The student lifestyle can lead to sleep loss, and not getting enough sleep can lead to obesity. When your body is sleep-deprived, levels of the hormone ghrelin increase, making you feel like eating, and the levels of leptin decrease, which helps the brain know when to stop eating.

Without a solid 7.5 hours of sleep, you might begin to crave high-calorie or sugary foods. Staying up all night to cram for a midterm or binge-watch GOT can leave you vulnerable to overeating the next day. Making a habit of sleep deprivation has other impacts as well, so try to manage your schedule to allow for a full night’s sleep on a regular basis.

6. Manage Your Student Stress Level

Major life changes like leaving for college are inherently stressful. When you add a full schedule, new responsibilities, financial concerns, and watching your weight go up, that stress can be a factor all by itself. Learning to manage your stress in a healthy way can have a tremendously positive effect on your weight and your mental resilience.

Chronic stress changes your hormonal balance and leads to increased levels of cortisol, which promotes fat storage. Emotional eating for comfort can be a natural reaction to break-ups, poor grades, and feeling homesick. Dieting and even weight loss procedures are far more effective when the individual practices stress management as part of their daily lifestyle.

Exercise, meditation, yoga, music, art, and martial arts are all known to reduce stress levels and promote good mental health. Eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals, especially Vitamins B and C and calcium with magnesium, help the body normalize stress hormones.

Take Advantage of Weight Loss Resources

female storytelling to her girlfriend while sitting on a bench with a laptop

More than 1/3 of Americans struggle with obesity, and many of these have their first challenges when they head off to school. Making the right choices during this lifestyle transition can help students learn to maintain a healthy weight before obesity-related conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure develop.

When diet and exercise are not enough to reverse the trend, reach out to our weight loss clinic in Houston. Bariatric Care Centers has a wealth of resources available, which can help you take control of your weight and start on a lifetime journey of good health. Call us today to discuss bariatric surgery in Houston or other weight-loss strategies that will complement your ability to maintain your ideal body weight.

Disclaimer: This is only for general information. All patients should consult their doctors prior to following any of the recommendations in any articles, posts, infographics, or videos. All patients have individual needs and limitations of which only their treating physicians can be fully aware.