Maintaining healthy eating habits in college can sometimes be harder than trying to pass a physics exam.
When you’re juggling days filled with classes, work and appointments, you need high-quality food energy to keep you going. Snacking on healthy foods when you’re hungry can help you stay alert and prevent you from binge eating when you finally reach the dining hall.
Nielsen, a consumer trends reporting company, found that not only do 91 percent of people snack at least once a day, but also that chips, chocolate and cookies are a some of the most popular snacks.
Many of us, however, can confuse “snack” with “treat.” In the Huffington Post article “Healthy Snack Tips: Avoid Mistakes We All Make When We Nibble,” Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietitian, said that snacks “offer nutrition and fullness to help bridge one meal to the next. Treats don’t give either.”
Blatner suggests keeping track of your fullness; if that post-class cookie won’t fill you up or give you nutrients, it is just contributing extra calories and is better left untouched.
Sometimes what appears to be a snack, though, may actually fill you up like a meal would.
“I often replace my meals with snacks like apples, peanut butter and Cliff bars,” Marie Taylor, sophomore in art education, said. “However, I would rather just have a chocolate chip cookie.”
Taylor is not the only student that often snacks instead of eating meals.
“I replace meals with snacks to save money,” Sullivan Bohren, sophomore in mechanical engineering, said.
Money doesn’t have to be an issue when planning for healthy snacks, though. Precut fruits and veggies provide carbs for quick energy along with vitamins and minerals. That being said, sometimes eating fruits or veggies alone just doesn’t fill you up.
Bates College Health Center recommends snacking on a combination of proteins and carbs will keep you full and energized. Examples of protein and carb parings could be apples and peanut butter, cheese and crackers, carrots and hummus, or even berries and yogurt.
On the other hand, some students feel the pain in their pocket of spending even the smallest money to eat healthy.
“My morning snacks used to be a variety of nuts, but now I switched to fruits only, because it is less expensive,” Sonja Schneider, junior in mass communications, said.
You don’t need to head for the vending machine when you feel hunger between meals. Plan ahead and stash low-calorie, nutritious snacks in small plastic containers or bags so they are easy to carry in a pocket or backpack.
”On campus there aren’t enough options to get healthy snacks, such as variety of fruits and vegetables; I have to bring it from home,” Schneider said.
When preparing your snacks, be aware of portion size. It is one of the main factors in weight gain or loss. According to Miriam Pappo, registered dietitian at New York’s Montefiore Medical Center, in the SF Gate article “Nutrition Tips for College Students,” you can add up to 10 pounds of weight gain a year by eating an extra 100 calories a day more than you need.
Also, according to the Details article “3 Square Meals vs. All-Day Snacking: How Often Should You Really Eat a Day to Lose Weight?,” snacking smart can also help increate your resting metabolism which in turn promotes thinking and talking throughout the day.
So, in short, use nutritious snacks to fuel your body so you have the energy and focus you need to feel good and perform well.