Help Kids Avoid the Freshman 15

College is all about eating whatever you want, cramming for exams and vegging-out in your free time, right? Although you likely remember a moderate amount of all three of these activities when you were in college, you also probably remember the Freshman 15. Now your kids are in the same position — out of the house, making their own decisions and, likely having pizza and beer with friends. Talking about the Freshman 15 isn’t always the most comfortable subject to broach, but you can encourage healthy habits. Here are a few ideas:

Give Them a Go-to Dish

Before your kids leave for college, or when they come home for Thanksgiving break, teach them how to make a few essential dishes. If these dishes can be prepared in the microwave, busy kids will be more likely to tackle these on their own post-break.

Upgrade from Easy Mac, which has upward of 950 calories per box. This easy-to-make meal will be even more satisfying with fewer calories. Cooking in College suggests Weeknight Three-Ingredient Mac ‘n Cheese for hungry, health-conscious students living in college dorms. With just milk, pasta and cheese, this recipe is great for single servings or for cooking up a big batch for your neighboring dorm mates. Opt for nonfat milk, whole wheat pasta noodles and low-fat cheeses to make this a healthier dish.

To make this savory dish you'll need two cups of pasta shells, two cups of milk and two cups of your favorite cheese. Mix the milk and pasta shells together in a large bowl and microwave with low-powered heat for about 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes to make sure the pasta cooks evenly. After the pasta is thoroughly cooked, stir in the cheese until it's completely melted. You can add your own personal flavor to this recipe by adding a pinch of pepper or a squirt of Sriracha for an added kick. Make this once while they’re at home to show them how easy and tasty it is.

Send Them Off with a Blender or Juicer

Teach your freshman how to use raw ingredients like cucumber, kale, carrots, berries, oranges and limes to create a vitamin-rich drink that can help start the day off on the right foot. Start by combining the ingredients in a juicing system like the Nutribullet. This little system makes grab-and-go juicing a breeze with a detachable 24-ounce cup that can be removed from the Power Base and resealable lids offer lasting freshness.

Give Them Ideas for Healthy Snacks

Instead of picking up a bag of chips at the campus grocery store or impulsively grabbing a chocolate chip muffin with a morning latte before a 7:30 a.m. class, encourage healthy to-go snacks. Give them ideas, like packing a baggie of raw almonds or tucking an apple inside their gym bag. Eating nuts, like almonds, can keep them full for longer periods of time and can even aid in weight loss, making this go-to snack essential for long days on campus. Foods that are rich in fiber, like apples, can help them keep to a healthy weight, too.

Encourage Activity

As you remember, college is more than just studying. Encourage your kids to manage their time wisely. You may have fought with them about bringing the video game console up to school, but it might actually be a good thing for healthy breaks! The Xbox Kinect has many active motion video games which offer range-of-motion activities — from Nike+ Training for fitness junkies, Zumba World Party for those who like to shake things up and Let's Sing and Dance for those brave souls who love to belt out some karaoke. Playing a game on the Xbox One with Kinect sensor feels more like fun and less like working out. It’s a great way to get restlessness out and encourage focus later.

Encourage Participation in Intramurals

Many colleges have robust intramural programs. Participating on a team helps students stay active and helps new students foster friendships among other teammates. There are men's only teams, women's only teams and co-ed teams that compete at every level — from serious to carefree. Whether your kid is an athlete or just likes a casual pick-up game here and there, all levels are welcome. This gives students a healthy and scheduled outlet.

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