Going off to college is an amazing and exciting experience. However, many college students fear the dreadful freshman 15. Dining halls typically offer a variety of healthy foods, but most only offer meals during set times. Eat outside those time frames, and you’re on your own.. Mix this in with limited food preparation options, limited space, little time, a small food budget and easy access to fast food/vending machines. As we all know, you can’t out run an bad diet. So what can you keep in a your dorm room or apartment for a good on the go snack between classes and meals?
Note: this works great for teachers (anyone for that mater!) who need to keep snacks at their desk, or just grab something and run.
First, lets talk about what a snack should consist of. A snack is a small amount of food eaten between meals. Snacks are there to provide energy and help sustain us until the next nutritious meal. Aim for something a little heavier in protein to help keep you fuller longer.
Here are a few tips to get the most out of snacks.
- Pre-portion everything out into little baggies. This makes it easy to grab-and-go, as well as not grab too much if you’re feeling hungry.
- When choosing peanut butter, stick to natural.. you don’t need the added sugar or whatever else they add. (A lot of grocery stores now have that peanut butter machine where it grinds the peanuts and turns it into peanut butter. If you like your peanut butter sweet, add some honey. )
- Watch out for sugar! Look at the sugar content, then the ingredient list. If you’re buying something made form fruit, chances are it’ll be high in sugar. Look at the ingredient list for any added sugars, and if you see added sugar, feel free to put that snack back on the shelf!
Top 10 Snack Options:
1.) Granola. Watch the added sugars, but typically an all-natural granola makes for a great on the go snack to keep you full and satisfied.
2.) Trail Mix. No, we do not mean the M&M and salted peanut kind. We mean the un-salted peanut, dark chocolate chips (if you really need chocolate in it) kind. Click here for a great guide for all different kinds of trail mix. And remember to portion it out into baggies after you buy or make your own so you don’t over eat. Trail mix can pile up calories very fast if you are not careful. However, it can be a great hunger killer and source of protein and good fats!
3.) Granola bars. Be very careful when it comes to granola bars. Some are healthy and packed full of nutrients, and some are simply sugar disguised as a healthy granola bar. Look for brands like Kashi, KIND Bars, Back to Nature Bars, Etc. As with everything, look at sugar contents and ingredient lists to avoid any added sugar.
4.) Fruit. This should be a given. Berries, bananas, apples, watermelon, pineapple, etc. Add some peanut butter or pair with a handful of almonds to an apple or banana for some added protein.
5.) Unsalted almonds are a great source of protein and healthy fats. If you are in the mood for chocolate, find some dark chocolate covered unsalted almonds. These make an amazing after dinner snack.
6.) Veggies or pita bread and hummus. This is something that should be kept cold in the fridge or a lunch box. You can buy individual packets of hummus and pair with your favorite veggies for a great snack! When buying pita bread, opt for whole wheat options.
7.) Fresh or Dried Edamame. Soy nuts are balanced with protein, fat and are a low-carb snack to help hold you over. Be sure to look for a Non-GMO label on the package!
8.) Rice cakes and nut butter. BE sure to get the unsalted rice cakes and natural peanut butter. Add flax see, a banana, or chia seeds to make this even more nutritious!
9.) Baby bell cheese and grapes (or any other fruit). When buying a cheese/string cheese, be sure to get the lite version. Baby bell is a great option for on the go cheeses.
10.) Greek Yogurt. Opt for plain versions of Greek yogurt, because these are the kinds that contain little to no sugar. Add in some honey, protein powder (for added protein), or fresh fruit to sweeten it up if you like it sweet.
Things to avoid:
Most of the above options are processed, but there are going to be better options than most. When it comes to a snack, you want to keep it light. Avoid the following:
- Potato Chips
- Candy Bars
- Pop Tarts/Pastry Treats
- Cookies and Donuts
- Salted peanuts/almonds/pretzals
- Dried fruit
- Trailmix packed with salted peanuts and candies
- Fruit Snacks
- Most protein Bars (always check sugar contents)