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Helping College Freshmen Make Healthy Choices

August 31, 2012, 6:06 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Helping College Freshmen Make Healthy Choices

From no longer eating mom's home-cooked meals to dealing with the stress of a new environment, college freshman can struggle making healthy choices. Wellness coaches say even though children no longer live at home, parents can help their college freshman make smart ones.

The Matsons make a point of eating together. While soon-to-be college freshman Alex might not enjoy all foods, such as watermelon, he will miss his mom's cooking.

"I know nobody wants to make the freshman 15, so I'm trying to prepare for that, not go there thinking I can just pig out," Alex said.

"It's a big difference when you have a buffet of food every single night and all those choices and it's really important to pace and limit yourself," Alex's mother Jill said.

Jill has talked to her son about making healthy choices while in college. That's a conversation Certified Wellness Coach Lisa Albers recommends, but not only about eating healthy and exercising.

"You need to talk to them about reducing the stress in their life. It's overwhelming. They have their place in their homes for 18 years, and then they go off and they're going to be all alone," Albers said.

College freshman also might be tempted to pick up a fast, unhealthy snack from a vending machine or store.

"Personally what I did is I took my daughter shopping, and we got a bunch of healthy snacks just to have in her room, such as a bag of apples," Albers said.

While Jill wants to make sure her son is making healthy choices, she also doesn't want to be overbearing. Albers says you should let your student set the tone.

"You're going to be there for them anytime they want to call home. I really think that face time is important, and it's so easy, and we all have the technology now. Sometimes I think just having that visual, seeing that person is important," Albers said.

And that's true not only for the child, but also the parent.

"It always changes the dynamics of our family when one of our children leaves for college. It's going to be another change. We still have one at home. It will be different for him and us," Jill said.

Albers says another important conversation to have with your student is establishing a good sleep schedule.

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