The infamous "Freshman 15" continues to be one of the most popular college topics among incoming first years. Candy bars, mini tubs of Ben & Jerry's and an endless supply of potato chips stored in your dorm may keep you satisfied in between trips to the dining hall, but it isn't doing your body much good. There are plenty of nutritious alternatives to the tastes and textures that we all love and crave.
Nuts are a relatively cheap, filling snack that – when unsalted – are chock-full of health benefits. Almonds have a significant amount of fiber, protein and healthy fats; hazelnuts are high in magnesium, vitamins B and E and calcium; cashews contain antioxidants and vitamins E, K, and B6; pecans provide a whopping nineteen vitamins and minerals and walnuts are anti-inflammatory agents that help with heart health and lower the risk of diabetes. These superfoods should be a staple in your diet and dorm.
2. Fruit Chips
Fruit Chips are dried slices of fruit typically found in the canned goods or produce aisle. Favorite choices include banana chips, apple chips and strawberry chips. These easy-to-grab baked morsels contain most of the nutrients that regular fruit has, but with a candy-like appearance and different taste. Buyer beware: check the nutrition label to make sure that your purchase isn’t loaded with added sugar.
3. KIND Bars
You know ‘em and you love ‘em! KIND bars easily won over the nation with their tempting flavors, wholesome ingredients and limited crumb spillage. Familiar favorites like nuts, fruit and grains balance a high calorie content and add extra nutritional value. Keep a few in your book bag to graze on in between lectures to ensure that you stay sharp throughout the day.
Yogurt is only an option if you have a mini fridge in your dorm, but don’t fret! It’s sure to be a part of the breakfast spread in the dining hall. Yogurt is high in protein, calcium and probiotics (healthy bacteria), and it can fortify your immune system and digestive tract. It comes in many, many flavors and packaging, so don’t be afraid to sample! Once again, check the label to make sure that your yogurt skips the extra dose of sugar.
Ready-to-microwave or already popped, popcorn is a classic snack that can be spiced up in a variety of ways: make it sweet by adding a packet of Splenda or savory with a pinch of salt or pepper. Steer clear of overly buttered brands full of extra fat and calories and opt instead for the 100 calorie packs. Popcorn is rich in whole grains, fiber, and antioxidants and is cheap and simple to store. However, you do run the risk of making the entire hall smell like a movie theater if you choose to pop your own.
Pretzels are a yummy, nourishing replacement for greasy potato chips. Both satisfy your need for a salty treat, but only one has enough fiber, iron and zinc to qualify it as healthy. When chosen correctly, pretzels are low in fat and sodium and can be very filling. This light snack can be conveniently thrown into your book bag and munched on whenever you need a small dose of carbohydrates to get you to your next class.
Although it may seem bland, oatmeal is a versatile meal that can be very beneficial to the average college student. It is a great source of potassium and calcium and is simple to make if you don’t have time to spare waiting in line at the dining hall. Oatmeal is a healthful alternative to sugary cereal, but still provides the complex carbs and energy that you will need later in the day.
Apples are arguably the best piece of fruit to keep in your dorm. They will last up to 8 weeks if refrigerated and a week or two if not. They provide antioxidants and dietary fiber and reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. A good-sized apple counts as one cup of fruit, which is a hefty portion of the recommended daily fruit intake. Apples are also full of fructose that will keep you awake and won’t give you a caffeine crash!
College students are often busy and distracted, which can correlate to bad eating habits. A balanced, nutritious diet may seem tough to achieve when you barely have time to breathe between classes, club meetings, intramural sports and parties, but it’s essential to your success. Our bodies need as much help as they can get during this stressful time in our lives. Take the initiative to purchase some good-for-you snacks, and thank yourself in the future for taking care of your body and mind.