LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Starting college is exciting and stressful, and many students will find a challenge in trying to balance their social life and multiple classes while being away from home.

This stress can create poor eating habits and what some call the “freshman 15.”

Between late-night studying and mounds of homework, eating healthy may be the last thing on students’ minds.

Local weight loss expert Tana Cogan, who focuses on gut and health hormones, said you should try to limit snacking and stick to three meals a day.

If you must snack, stick to grab-and-go health items like beef jerky, overnight oats, and dairy-free yogurt. Don’t worry about following a routine, just try to eat when you can while focusing on the type of protein you’ll eat.

She said students who are stressed are more likely to gain weight due to increased food cravings and changing hunger hormones.

“People have to give themselves grace, life happens, and sometimes when we do get stressed out, we get comforted by food, especially if your family is far and you feel alone,” Cogan said. “It’s a normal thing to go through, and people shouldn’t feel anxiety or depression over that. Try to pick yourself back up and go for a little walk, get active, and make better decisions for the next day.”

Cogan suggested you always try to get your body moving, even if it’s just a five-minute workout or a quick walk.

“I think a lot of times, people think easing into an easier lifestyle that they have to be so structured, they can have no cheat meals and nothing of that sort, and that stresses people out more,” Cogan said. “So I just say enjoy and listen to your body. If you need those carbs, eat them.”

She suggested that if you can, try to plan your meals ahead of time, noting that there are plenty of healthier meal options that you can also pop into the microwave or air fryer.

Cogan also suggested that if you’re drinking alcohol, it’s important to think about not eating anything too heavy before or after, because your body will be breaking down the alcohol.