By: Ashley Statter ‘18, University Health Center Nutrition Peer Educator
The stress of school can make it difficult for students to stay consistent with healthy eating patterns. As a dietetics student, I have personally experienced how difficult it can be to balance schoolwork while still making time to prepare healthy meals and stay physically active.
One of the most important things I’ve learned in college is how to be creative about fueling my body all day. Eating purposeful snacks has helped me manage my energy, my mood and ultimately my grades! With all the work we put in as students, it is critical we adequately fuel our bodies so we can perform to the best of our ability. The purpose of snacking is to bridge the gap between meals to keep your energy levels up throughout the day and limit overeating at meals.
Get energized, get motivated, and gain confidence in your snacking and overall diet by following these tips!
Make your snacks purposeful by combining a carbohydrate with a protein
A purposeful snack is just what it sounds like. It is a snack with the purpose to fuel your body with nutritious energy. Snacks are a chance to provide your body with nutrients you may not have gotten in other meals. Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of fuel, and protein is satiating and filling. The combination of the two will provide long-lasting energy that will help keep you energized between meals, and limit overeating at meals.
Some examples of purposeful snacks you can find on campus are
- Apples or bananas with peanut butter
- Whole wheat crackers and low fat cheese
- Pretzels, carrots, or celery with hummus
- Mixed nuts and dried fruit
- Yogurt and granola
Carry purposeful snacks in your backpack
Stocking your backpack with healthy snacks is an easy way to ensure that you never become overly hungry and depleted of energy. Food=fuel, so it is important to make sure that you have snacks readily available so that even on your most stressful and busy days, you are full of energy. Simply noshing on a handful of almonds before taking an exam or doing a presentation can really enhance focus and performance if you are feeling hungry or fatigued. It is also a good way to cut back on your coffee intake. Your craving for caffeine may really be your body crying out for food!
Pre-portion and pre-plan snacks to limit overconsumption
It can be very easy to overeat snacks when eating right out of the bag, box, carton, or jar. This is especially true late at night when students tend to be tired and worn down. Decision making can be a lot harder when you are tired and stressed, often times leading to emotional eating. Try pre-portioning and pre-planning snacks to make it easier to manage portions. A portion of a snack should be just enough to keep hunger managed until the next meal or bedtime.
Some easy ways to pre portion/plan snacks is to:
- Purchase individual snack size packs such as pretzels, baked chips, granola bars, pudding or hummus.
- Save money by making your own pre-portioned chips, pretzels, nuts, or other snack foods in plastic bags or Tupperware containers. Seeing the portion you are eating instead of eating out of the bag or box of the food item can help limit over consumption and mindless eating.
- Have a plan for the times you know you will want to snack. Whether this is late at night or mid-morning, plan in advance what you want to eat as your snack instead of making the decision when you are hungry and your intuition is foggy.
- Mark the day you bought the food item on the bag to make sure you spread your consumption of it over a number of days. It can be easy to eat a bag of chips in 2 days, or even a couple of hours, but the reminder that you will need to restock soon may limit overconsumption.
Snacking can be fun, healthy, and enjoyable! Leave in the comments section below ideas of purposeful snacks you enjoy!
To learn more about healthy snacking, reserve your session with a University Health Center Nutrition Coach today by calling 301-314-5664 or emailing NutritionCoach@umd.edu.