There’s nothing quite like the college experience, especially during that first year. Leading up to move-in day, you often hear stories of the good ol’ days, filled with tailgating, studying, making new friends, and of course the infamous freshman 15—yikes. If you ask some people, it’s like the plague, unwanted and completely unavoidable. However, Baton Rouge-based dietician Vanessa Richard says otherwise.
“The freshman 15 is actually a myth—most students don’t gain the full 15 pounds their first year of college” says Richard. “However, research shows some individuals do gain weight over the course of their college years.”
And don’t think you have to be a first-year student to be affected by late-night cravings or the age-old beer gut. You might be an incoming senior, running a little low on funds, and feeling as if the Taco Bell dollar menu is the only thing that fits the budget. Trust me, we’ve all been there and we’re not proud of it.
So for the sake of avoiding the freshman 15–and the sophomore slump—Richard compiled a list of healthy and budget-friendly dining options for all hours of the day—or night.
Add old-fashioned oats, almond milk, nuts, berries and cinnamon to a Mason jar or container. Let sit in the fridge overnight. Throw in a splash of almond milk in the morning.
Coffee Cup Frittata:
Whisk 1 to 2 eggs in a coffee cup. Add shredded cheese, spinach, chopped onion, chopped peppers and mushrooms to the mug. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Microwave again for 60 seconds.
Combine mixed greens, chopped veggies, pre-cooked quinoa, canned black beans and nuts in a bowl. Top it off with a vinaigrette dressing. (Hanley’s Dressings are Eat Fit approved and local.)
Tuna Salad Lettuce Wraps:
Wrap pre-cooked tuna, chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, kalamata olives and goat cheese in a leaf of lettuce. Garnish with a squeeze of lemon.
Cut a spaghetti squash in half, lengthwise. Scoop and remove seeds. Place squash face down in a container. Add 1/2 inch of water. Microwave for 10 to 20 minutes or until squash is easy to shred. Top with jarred red sauce, mozzarella cheese and Italian seasoning. Microwave for 1 minute to allow cheese to melt.
Stuffed Sweet Potato:
Use a fork to poke holes into a sweet potato. Microwave for about 5 minutes or until potato is tender. Cut lengthwise and top with canned black beans, sliced avocado, salsa or pico de gallo, plain Greek yogurt and a squeeze of lime.
As far as snacking goes, Richard says it’s important for students to learn how to snack smart. “Try to avoid snacking while studying and doing other tasks,” says Richard. “Rather, pause to have a balanced snack if you are hungry, then go back to what you were doing.”
Some good ideas for when you can’t shake the mid-day or midnight munchies are hot tea or infused water, turkey and lettuce roll-up, unsweetened trail mix, veggie sticks and hummus, and guacamole.
Aside from making smart eating choices, Richard stresses the importance of making healthy everyday choices as well.
“Practicing a balanced lifestyle of exercise and clean eating habits can keep you feeling your best while maintaining a healthy weight range,” explains Richard.
Staying active, getting enough sleep, listening to your body and snacking smart are all great ways to stay proactive and live confidently, both in college and beyond.
Know any other clean and easy recipes perfect for college life? Be sure to share with us some of your favorite dorm-room dishes on our social media or in the comments below.
This story originally appeared in a June 2019 edition of inRegister@Home.