The New Freshman 15: Holiday Hunger Pangs

         Getting out of “school mode” means returning home and leaving finals and stress, behind you. The good thing is eating on-the-go, late night snacks while cramming for exams, and fast food don’t usually come home with you for the holidays.

  But,your mother’s home cooking and your auntie’s famous yet fattening pie will be a little too accessible for your own good. 

 What is it about the holidays that cause students to overeat?

 “I am from the South and we know how to eat down there,” said Natalie Noble, a native of Mississippi and recent HowardUniversity graduate.

 “When you make your rounds to visit relatives, they get offended when you don’t eat.  Sometimes I end up having dinner 5 times,” Noble said, laughing at relatives’ tendency to comment on weight gain.

 Statistics show that the average American puts on roughly a pound during the winter holidays, according to The National Institutes of Health.

 After Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year feasts, many students end up feeling a bit like Santa Clause, hiding under their festive holiday attire.

 Taylor Adams, a North Carolina A&T junior is thin and his family is always encouraging him to pick up a chicken wing, or two. 

 “I’m a small guy,” Adams confesses. “So when I go home everyone is in a hurry to feed me," Adams said while laughing.  "The weight sticks for a moment, then slides right off."

 As we lay stuffed and unbuttoning our jeans to breathe, it is easy to assume we have gained more than a pound.  The pound statistic is merely an average. However, people with irregular eating habits, particularly students, are more susceptible to gaining unflattering weight because they are constantly off-setting their metabolic functions. 

 Weight gained each holiday season accumulates over the years and can lead to diabetes and obesity, according to research conducted by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

 What does this mean for the next few months? It means slowing down and trying not to overindulge.  With New Year resolutions around the corner, many people want to get in their last feast before joining the gym. 

 This year, make the resolution to keep up the impeccable body image you have created by cutting back in the holidays.  When it gets warm, your turtleneck can run, but your weight cannot hide.  When you sit down at the table eat with caution. 


10 Steps to Avoid Overeating

1. Plan holiday celebrations around activities, not food.

2. Concentrate on quality, not quantity.

3. Give yourself the gift of planned physical activity

4. Never skip meals before a big celebration

5. Put eating in perspective

6. Spend less time in the kitchen

7. Re-think food gifts you give

8. Go to the back of the buffet line

9. Get adequate sleep

10. Plan ahead


This list was made by Ruth Litchfield, Ph.D., R.D., extension nutritionist, and Diane Nelson, extension communication specialist.