#CheatSheet: How to battle the Freshers’ 15

Alcohol, Urban Oven and potatoes. An unholy amount of potatoes.

These three things are a recipe for tragic weight gain. However, don’t panic! Weight gain happens to most of us during our first year as our lifestyles and routines change dramatically. Before university, you probably didn’t spend the majority of your evenings downing pints/vodka cokes, ending up lying on your bed with your face stuffed in pizza and then waking up to go to lunch. We’ve all been there.

Pepperoni pizza

Here are a few tips and tricks to keep those pesky pounds at bay:

  • Think ahead. You’re planning to go out and thus by the end of the night, your stomach will probably yearn for some deep-fried nourishment. Don’t follow your nose (and the crowd) to those evil havens enticing you with sumptuous smelling stodge. Do not fall into their traps! Instead, make yourself something healthier beforehand, such as a sandwich or pasta, and keep it in the fridge. This will not only save you money but will also be a nutritional alternative! However, despite the common belief, eating after a night out doesn’t necessarily ward off a hangover, it just raises your blood-sugar levels which effectively prevents that fragile feeling the next day. So, if you can walk on by those tempting midnight munchies and reward yourself with a hearty breakfast in the morning, you’re doing well!
  • Eat only the potatoes you recognise. Durham takes pride in inventing ways of eating potatoes I never even knew existed. I once counted five types of potatoes on offer in college, including some ‘crispy hashtag’ ones. The fact that social media has now infiltrated our carbohydrates alone has persuaded me to veto it! When and if possible, always opt for the less ‘fried’ version. Following this, when you go out, work off all that potato energy and DANCE. Not only will you probably have a better time, but dancing for two hours straight (especially in Klute) burns a lot more calories than you may think. You also have the added bonus of sweating out some of the alcohol!

Another type of hash that should be avoided!

  • Take advantage of the wonderful soups and salads on offer. Fill yourself up with fruit and vegetables. If salad bores you, whip together a brightly coloured and aesthetically pleasing platter, as not only will it contain a wider variation of nutrients, but it will also make your salad look a whole lot more appetising! If you’re worried this won’t fill you up, chew 15–20 times per mouthful and then wait for 20 minutes after you’ve finished. You’ll be surprised at how satisfied you’ll feel! Furthermore, salads often contain grain and carbohydrate alternatives to the classic potato or rice and when possible, choose chickpeas or pearl barley as they are both rich in fibre and, hence, will keep you feeling full for longer.
  • Drink wisely. Alcohol is a major factor in the ordeal of weight gain. Besides it being technically a poison, it gives you the extra joy of being a highly calorific liquid. Drinking one large glass of wine is equivalent to eating a large slice of cake. However, some alcohols are worse than others and this can be hard to tell as suppliers are not forced to put the calorie content on their products. For example, in a can of bitter beer/ale there are roughly 180 calories, whereas in Lager, there are 240. For wine, white is the least calorific colour, yet there are still 93 calories in a small glass. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t last a whole night on a ‘small glass’… When it comes to spirits, the clearer the better. Gin comes in at 56 calories a shot. Diet mixers reduce the amount of sugar however if you’re not in favour of them, try a fruit juice mix (make your own Sex on the Beach with orange juice and cranberry), which will give you the vitamins required to break down the alcohol!

The ugly (and sad) truth

  • Go to breakfast (and brunch)! Yes, you are technically eating more but studies have shown that breakfast kick-starts your metabolism and thus you would actually be helping yourself by eating this extra meal– the dream! Here’s the truth about eating breakfast: your body fasts overnight, conserving energy and it carries on in this manner until you next eat; therefore burning fewer calories. When you have breakfast, your metabolism gets going again, so don’t skip breakfast and rather follow the saying “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” Porridge and eggs (as pictured below) are great options for breakfast as they release energy slowly, as opposed to sugary cereals which don’t keep you full for long and thus should be avoided. A fry up, which although is high in energy, will increase the fat in your diet so instead, save the bacon and beans for your weekend brunch when you can go (relatively) wild.

The ideal breakfast – boiled egg and porridge topped with banana

Just remember, all things – cheesy chips included – are good in moderation. Ease off the drinking and think of the calories you’ll be saving, and the dignity you’ll be retaining.

Good luck!

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