University and college students gain a great deal of freedom in their first year — and some also gain a great deal of weight. The famous “Frosh 15” is a familiar foe and can be avoided with a little effort.
Greta Podleski, who, with her sister Janet, is the food lover behind the Eat, Shrink and Be Merry TV series and book, says the problem is most 18- and 19-year-olds simply don’t know how to cook.
“Or they believe that putting Kraft Easy Mac in the microwave is cooking,” she jokes. “Eating healthfully when you have no idea how to cook is a challenge.”
Price shock when you start paying for your own groceries can also make “cheap” meals at fast food restaurants seem more affordable. “I’m sure the extra partying and drinking might have something to do with the weight gain, too,” she teases.
Podleski advises learning how to cook five basic meals before you leave home.
“They don’t have to be gourmet, but I’m not talking about spreading peanut butter on toast, either.”
For example, instead of ordering pizza, buy a whole-grain pre-made pizza crust and add your own toppings: Chicken, sliced mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes — whatever you fancy. Use partly skimmed cheese and a jar of pizza or pasta sauce and you have an easy health upgrade from delivered or frozen pizza.
A pasta meal can be just noodles and bottled sauce, but you can improve it by adding lean ground beef, chicken or meat substitute, along with chopped vegetables. “Look for the high-fibre white pastas if you can’t handle whole grain,” she says.
For breakfast, buy some whey protein powder and a blender to make breakfast smoothies. Add some frozen fruit and water and you are good to go.
“To add some good fats, throw in a tablespoon of ground flax or chia seed,” she says.
The Podleskis’ new cookbook, The Looneyspoons Collection, will be released this fall. Copies can be pre-ordered at indigo.ca.