Hi Friends and Followers. I’m happy to be back. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I would be back with an exciting blog post today. Several weeks ago I got into a conversation with my college-age son Harris about the difficulties college students have staying healthy and fit while away at school. Our conversation was a good one and we both thought it will be a perfect topic for my blog! So today, I introduce you to my son Harris. He’s taking over today with his experience at school thus far and I’m thrilled to have him. If you have any follow-up questions for him after reading his post below, don’t hesitate to reach out to me and I’ll pass them along. You know how much I love sharing with you! Today, I’m thrilled to share my son Harris…..

Every Monday morning my alarm goes off at 10:30 am. Ripping me from my sleep, I click the snooze button one too many times. More often than not I show up a little bit late to my Calculus class dreading the full week ahead of me. As we all know, college can be tough.

My name is Harris, Janine’s oldest son. I’m nineteen years old and a sophomore at Washington University in St Louis. I’m majoring in Biology with a research emphasis and considering adding a minor in Philosophy. In this aforementioned calculus class, I normally get distracted and go on my phone. I’ll open up Facebook and see that my mom has updated her blog. I’ll give it a glance, fall behind in lecture, and will then have to pay attention for the rest of class. I felt like I could contribute to the blog so I texted my mom and here I am writing.

Eating in college is tough. Well, actually it can be really enjoyable. What is tough is eating healthy. WashU has some great food options and I’ve been lucky to have good tasting meals available for the majority of my college life. However, I often find myself having to choose between time, taste, and health value.

Test season can be brutal for trying to keep healthy and as my finals are coming up, I am going to have to work to eat well. Late nights lead to late night hunger and the only options that are open past a certain hour are foods my mom would categorize as ‘avoid at all costs’. Yes, I am talking about the chicken fingers and fries, the burgers, the quesadillas, etc. When it is between going to bed hungry and eating like crap, many teens choose the latter. This is fine every now and then as I grew up with the phrase “everything in moderation”. While this phrase bothered the crap out of me while I was shoving down my dinner, it has saved me from gaining weight in college. Every now and then I indulge and the food tastes amazing. Most other nights, however, I will have a large cup of water and eat breakfast the next morning.

WashU, and I would imagine most other colleges, post some of their menus weeks in advance. I frequently visit the dining website in the morning to see if there is a meal that I like for dinner. If I know of a meal that I like for dinners, such as roast beef and potatoes, I will eat a lighter lunch and breakfast in anticipation of a larger meal in the evening. This is super helpful as my dinner tastes better and I don’t feel bad about eating a lot at night. I can use this same strategy for lunch as well, but that rarely happens.

Snacking. I would not be getting through school if it weren’t for the occasional study-snack break. Food is a great motivator and knowing that I will get to eat after completing a bio problem set helps me through it. What is important here is what a student chooses to eat for the snack. I try my best to keep my snacks light – just enough to hold me over until the next meal. WashU has these amazing snap-pea chips (dried snap peas, baked lightly salted). Eating a full pack of these keeps me full for hours and costs me around 200 calories. Obviously, other available snacks such as fruit or a piece of chicken will suffice.

Beer and other alcoholic drinks contribute massively to weight gain amongst college students. The go-to beer for university students, Natural Light, has 95 calories per can. A night out on a bar could cost a student upwards of 500 calories before they come back for their late night snack of fries and chicken fingers. Drinking two to three days a week can lead to an excess intake of over 2,000 calories per week. It might not seem like that much, but I have seen firsthand how that can impact someone over the course of the semester. After a night out of drinking, try to eat clean the next day!

For those who want to make sure that they don’t pack on the pounds, bring a scale to school and keep it in your bathroom. I have one, and I’m standing on it at least every other day to make sure I am within my comfortable range. If my weight has crept up, I know I should focus on eating healthier that day. However, and this is a good situation, when my weight is lower I know that I can afford those few extra fries at the end of the night. My weight is pretty important to my well being and I know has a direct correlation to other aspects of my health such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Most importantly, I’ve been raised on the idea that talking about food and weight is vital to staying healthy. If I’ve been feeling sh*tty about my weight or just unhealthy in general I’m pretty open with my mom about it. Talking it out and coming up with a game plan for the next few days or week is a strategy that works well for me, and I hope for you as well. There should be no shame in turning to someone more knowledgeable than yourself for help in times of need – a very valuable life lesson I have learned in school. It is super helpful to have a resource who is available at all times of the day and night. For that, and so many other reasons, I love you very much, mom!