By: Ashley Statter, ’16, University Health Center Nutrition Peer Educator
No fear, the freshman 15 is not inevitable! Eating healthy in a college dorm room is not as tough as it seems (and no, you do not need to eliminate the occasional late night pizza).
Adjusting to new living arrangements, running to classes, joining clubs, participating in Greek life, eating in the dining hall, and stressing over exams are all parts of college that tend to make people gravitate toward eating unhealthy food. While less nutritious food can be enjoyed on occasion, consistent unhealthy eating can make you feel sluggish and fatigued which can negatively impact your school work, social life, mental health, and physical health.
Here are a few tips for quick healthy meals that can be done right in your dorm room!
First, stock up your room with healthy food options. While the dining hall has lots of healthful options, it is good to be prepared for days when you have back to back classes and meetings and need to pack a lunch, or you simply do not feel like trekking to the dining hall. A few affordable options that are available in convenience stores around campus include:
- Frozen veggies/frozen fruits
- Instant oatmeal, rice, quinoa or other whole grains of your choice that can prepared in a microwave
- Hummus and nut butters
- Apples, pears, oranges, bananas and other fruits that are easy to pack in your backpack for an on the go snack
- Fiber rich granola bars
- Low fat yogurt
- Dried fruits
- Nuts and seeds
- Dark chocolate
- Rice cakes, pretzels, and whole wheat crackers
Next, make the microwave your friend! Here are a few recipes that require only a microwave or no cooking equipment at all!
- Add an egg and/or microwavable frozen veggies to ramen or other instant soups to add protein and nutrients to this college staple.
- Add a spoonful of nut butter and a banana to instant oatmeal for a protein packed breakfast that will keep you full all morning.
- Add fresh or dried fruit and yogurt to whole grain cereal for a tangy treat.
- Prepare microwave rice or quinoa and add frozen veggies and soy sauce for an easy dinner.
- Dip carrots, celery, pretzels, or whole-wheat crackers in hummus for a satisfying snack.
- Add nut butter and slices of apple or banana to rice cakes or whole wheat bread for a lunch or snack that you can pack on the go.
- Make a yogurt parfait with low fat yogurt, low fat granola, and frozen berries for a sweet and crunchy snack or breakfast, with lots of calcium!
Finally, if you’re really adventurous, here are some not so traditional ways to make some of your favorite foods.
Craving grilled cheese? Wrap a cheese sandwich in aluminum foil and iron it to melt the cheese and toast the bread! Add a tomato slice or some spinach and you can get a serving of vegetables in your diet too. The bread can also be replaced with a tortilla for a quick and easy quesadilla.
And if you have a coffee pot you are in for a real treat! From pasta, to soft-boiled eggs, and steamed vegetables, you can make a three-course meal just with this one simple kitchen device! Just make sure to clean it out before you brew a cup of joe!
Healthy eating on a college campus can seem like a challenge, but by getting to know your resources it can be fun and easy! To learn more about healthy eating habits, reserve your session with a nutrition coach by calling 301-314-5664 or emailing UHCNutritionCoach@umd.edu.