“College is a place full of tired nights, cramming, partying and little time for healthy eating, so smart snacking is a must,” said Rene Ficek, a registered dietitian and the lead dietitian nutritionist at Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating. Ficek is one of the three experts that highlighted some of the best healthy snack options college students should have in their dorms.
Before you hit the books or head to your first party of the semester, be sure to stock your dorm room (and mini fridge) with these 11 healthy snacks.
“In a to-go container, layer vanilla yogurt (or kefir) with mandarin oranges, blueberries or your favorite fruit. Top with granola for an extra crunch,” said Rene Ficek, a registered dietitian and the lead dietitian nutritionist at Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating. You can also opt for greek yogurt, which will add some protein or top with nuts to keep hunger at bay.
Store bought granola can be full of sugar, so if you can’t find what you want in the store try making your own. Pay attention to the amount of sugar in your ingredients—especially the dried fruit, as many types are known for adding tons of sugar. “Mix together ready-to-eat cereal, dried fruit and nuts in a sandwich bag for an on-the-go snack,” said Ficek. “These bags can also be helpful with calorie and portion control.”
“Spread mustard on a flour tortilla, top with a slice of turkey or ham and add low-fat cheese and lettuce. Slice up into bite size pieces and put into a snack bag,” said Ficek. This option is an easy, low key snack that you can put together in the dining hall and it’ll hold you over through those three-hour lectures.
“Fruit is always part of a well-balanced diet, however, like all natural products it can spoil relatively quickly,” said Dr. Scott Weiss, a licensed physical therapist, board certified athletic trainer and co-founder of Bodhizone NYC. “Dried fruit will provide you much of the delicious taste and nutrients of regular fruit, but allow you to save it for a longer time.”
“Although they are high in sodium, pretzels are an awesome low-fat snack that can help fill you up, and provide you with basic minerals and fiber,” said Weiss.
“Popcorn by nature is relatively low in fat and is a rich source of antioxidants and fiber,” said Weiss. Without add-ons (like butter) or preservatives, plain popcorn “can serve as a quick, filling and reasonably healthy snack to get you through your all-nighters.”
“While high in sodium, canned tuna is a budget-friendly food that can be prepared in multiple ways and provides an excellent source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids,” said Weiss. “While the latter may sound unusual, omega 3’s are an essential fatty acid that helps maintain the health of your cardiovascular system and brain.”
“Oatmeal is not just for breakfast. The brain healthy grain is super cheap and super filling with endless flavor combinations that make for a great snack any time of the day,” said Lynnette Astaire, a lifestyle expert and raw food chef. “It's soluble fiber keeps you fuller for longer and that helps to keep the freshman 15 at bay. Plus prep, clean up and transport is a breeze, all you need is one airtight container.” Be wary of the instant flavored oatmeal, though; as these kinds often contain added sugar.
Chocolate? As a healthy snack? You bet—and it may even help college students relax a little. “Dark chocolate's theobromine has been shown to produce [a] euphoric, happy feeling. [It] increases blood flow and reduces feelings of anxiety and stress,” said Nichole Dandrea, a registered dietitian and owner of Nicobella Organics. “Catechins in the chocolate also help to dilate the blood vessels and increase blood flow. Since dark chocolate contains significant amounts of both of these substances it's a great snack for increasing blood flow to the brain and helping with focus and concentration. They key is that it must be dark! (ie, made with cacao solids or cocoa liquor and not milk, excess sugar, and other additives).”
Most often credited with boosting memory, blueberries come with several other benefits college students would appreciate. One such benefit, says Dandrea, is helping to manage stress. “[Blueberries] may help to increase dopamine levels because of their naturally high tyrosine content which converts into dopamine (bananas do the same).”