College is often the first opportunity many students have to experience the responsibility and freedom to make all of their own food choices. Eating habits often change during this time with the exposure to new foods, new social circles, all-you-care-to-eat dining halls, and stress-related eating.

Year after year, this transition in life and eating habits is often associated with weight gain —the dreaded “freshmen fifteen.” However, studies have shown this to be more myth than fact and weight gain during the first year of college tends to be much more minimal (less than five pounds) for most students. This is often attributed to eating more than usual, eating different types of foods, eating as a more frequent social activity, or simply having less time to be as active as many students were during high school (especially former athletes).

As college is also a time when students begin to take more of a command of their personal health, they may become more aware of certain nutrition-related health issues, including:

  • Weight gain/loss
  • Pre-diabetes and diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Food allergies or intolerances
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • Disordered eating and eating disorders

Several on-campus resources are available to help students with nutrition-related health issues.

Rutgers Student Health

Rutgers Student Health (RSH) has a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) on staff that provides medical nutrition therapy for students dealing with any of the issues mentioned above. Students wishing to meet with the RDN should first consult with a RSH clinician. If appropriate, clinicians will refer students to the RSH dietitian.

For some students, eating habits can become disordered in college, leading to weight loss or gain; binge eating and purging; or an unhealthy amount of time exercising or thinking about food. RSH clinicians can work with those students and coordinate with a multidisciplinary team to provide the best approach to treatment. For more information on how disordered eating and eating disorders are treated at Rutgers, visit here.

Rutgers Dining Services

Rutgers Dining Services has Registered Dietitian Nutritionists that work with students who have meal plans and special dietary needs to ensure medically appropriate and nutritionally sound diets. For information about these services or to complete the Medical and Dietary Consideration form, visit here.

Nutrition Advocate Peer Educators

Nutrition Advocate Peer Educators are available to provide engaging, informative nutrition workshops to your student club, residence hall, or Greek life organization. For more information about the Nutrition Advocates or to complete the workshop request form, visit the Health Outreach, Promotion, and Education (HOPE) website.

If you’re looking for additional resources, check out MyPlate and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Both are great, evidence-based resources with general nutrition and health information.