It is certainly that time of the semester where my planner is chock-full of assignments, exams, and student organization meetings. In the midst of a busy semester, it is easy to take short cuts when it comes to your health and nutritional needs. If you are anything like me, I am constantly hungry. Three o’clock rolls around and I am ready for a boost of energy to get me through the day. Here are some tips and tools to arm you with the knowledge you need when hunger strikes.
My best piece of advice would be to be proactive. It is easy to grab unhealthy snacks such as chips, cookies, and other processed foods because they are convenient and prepackaged. However, there are alternatives that are more health conscious and will keep you fuller.
When I lived on campus, I would go to one of the campus market locations (Union Market, Curl Market, and Marketplace) and stock my Microfridge with containers of fresh cut berries, yogurt parfaits, and small salads. When a craving would strike, I would already be prepared with healthy options in my own room.
Watch Your Portion Size
Always remember, a snack is NOT a meal. A snack should be something to keep you focused throughout the day–not a meal replacement.
Keep portions small and pay attention to serving sizes. Check out the nutrition label on the back and estimate what a serving would be. It is so easy to mindlessly eat and all of the sudden the whole bag is gone. Oops!
Pack with Care
You might be on-the-go like me or a commuter student who brings your lunch and snacks to school. It is important to pack your snacks safely to avoid food spoilage.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, perishable items such as cheese, meats, and yogurts should not be left out for more than two hours. Make sure you pack snacks with a cold pack and in an insulated container to ensure safe snacking on the go.
Staying hydrated is so important, especially since we’re hiking around campus all day. It is a great idea to carry a water bottle in your backpack–there are many convenient water bottle filling stations all around campus and in residence halls.
Stick to water instead of surgery sweetened beverages. If you crave fizz, try flavored sparkling water.
Look Out for Sugar Bombs
You might be surprised to learn that your favorite granola and protein bars might have as much sugar as a candy bar. The food industry is really sneaky at adding extra sugar to foods and advertising them as “healthy.”
A great alternative would be to snack on fresh fruit with natural sugar and nut butters to give you the boost you need. For example, apples and peanut butter is a delicious snack.
When in Doubt, Consult an Expert
If you are unsure of your specific caloric needs or need help navigating campus dining, it is always best to consult an expert. A Registered Dietitian (RD) is a nutrition expert that can help you with your specific dietary needs.
Fortunately at Ohio State, there are many resources here to help you. Check out the Student Wellness Center located inside the RPAC for nutrition coaching.
From one food lover to another, happy snacking!