Dr. Lisa Sheehan-Smith, a registered dietitian and assistant professor of human sciences at Middle Tennessee State University, has come up with a four-step plan for college students who want to avoid gaining the freshman 15 lbs. She calls it the E.A.S.Y. approach, and its philosophy meshes perfectly with the principles of organic living:

E = Eat three meals a day to develop a consistent routine and avoid haphazard dining. “I always tell people that they need to have a plan for success, which means planning in advance when and what they’re going to eat,” Dr. Sheehan-Smith says. “Don’t leave it to chance because the choices may be full of calories, fat and sugar, but little nutrients.”

A = Ask if there are healthier options when dining on and off campus. Some sample questions to ask yourself: What is my class/work schedule? Based on my class/work schedule, when can I plan my meals? Where—and what—am I going to eat? “I tell my clients that the key to choosing healthy meals and snacks is to try and include a serving from three of the five basic food groups: whole-grain breads and cereals, fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy,” Dr. Sheehan-Smith says. “This eating plan gives you a variety of foods throughout the day and a nice balance of food groups, which will provide a diet more dense in nutrients.”

S = Snack defensively to maintain energy, while contributing to overall nutrition. “Avoid vending machines,” she advises. “Bring snack bags of raw veggies and cut-up fruit. Stick low-fat/low-sugar granola bars or cookies in your backpack. Munch on whole-grain crackers with some peanut butter. And if you can manage a small soft-sided cooler pack, then yogurt and cottage cheese can be good snacks—but remember to watch the portion sizes.”

Y = Yes to being active, including walking—not riding buses—to class to help manage stress and maintain your fitness level. “Take a P.E. class each semester, or work out at the campus recreation center,” Dr. Sheehan-Smith urges. “Or try playing intramural sports—a great way to meet new friends.”