As promised, here's part 2 of how to help your college freshman choose healthier options while away at school to prevent the proverbial freshman 15 pound weight gain.
Organic (don’t let the name organic throw you into a panic: Trader Joe’s has some choices that are reasonably priced, even for college students) peanut butter or nut butters are always a good, healthy food staple to keep around and can be used to dip veggies into. Not only are they good for you, they are really satisfying. Some of the nut butters comes in individual packaging that you can just open and squeeze. How convenient can that be for college students who simply want a quick and convenient snack? I have seen individually packaged nut butters at Whole Foods Market, and the prices are decent. Can’t always say that about Whole Foods prices!
If you buy pre-packaged oatmeal, you know, the ones you can just toss in hot water and stir or put in the microwave for a few minutes, in an instant you can have hot breakfast cereal. Encourage your freshman to get the kind without the pre-added condiments like sugar, granola/cinnamon mixes. Even though these are convenient, they have more calories. I would suggest they buy plain oatmeal and then they can add their own flavors. This way they can control how much sugar they put in. Mom and Dad, if you’re sending those care packages, try to send the packages with less sugar as much as possible. Again, plain is a good way to go and then it can be dressed up later. These brands were found at Wholefoods Market.
Granola bars or protein bars are good choices for grab-and-go snacks but you need to be careful because a lot of the bars have a high sugar content and are low in fiber and protein. When you eat one, your hungry pains comes back quickly, so they are really not that satisfying. Be careful to read the food label to determine the amount of sugar. If sugar is listed in the first 3-4 ingredients, it’s best not to buy them. You want to look for the kind that has less than 5 grams of sugar. Also, look for the kind of bars that have lists of ingredients that you can actually pronounce. I think I will risk my reputation on this one and recommend Kind bars. They are usually low glycemic and have about 5 grams of sugar and are really satisfying. You can find these bars almost everywhere now, even at Walmart, I believe. But they are at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods for sure.
I didn’t drink coffee until I went off to college. Let’s face it, those late night study parties and cramming for tests don’t leave much room for thinking healthy, but here a few suggestions for coffee drinkers. Try to avoid flavored creamers; they are typically higher in sugar and have hydrogenated oils or transfat in them. Hydrogenated oils are known to cause heart disease. So, what should you do? Opt for half and half, almond milk, 2% milk or skim milk. If your college freshman still wants creamers and can’t imagine drinking coffee without them, try So Coconut Creamer. Of course, when students are out and about in a college town, they will have to rethink their choices when they eat out.
Yogurts. Your college students should stick with plain unsweetened yogurt and add their own fruit. Typically yogurt with fruit on the bottom has a lot of added calories from the sugar. Try to buy yogurts that have naturally occurring sugar, not sugar added. Plain Greek yogurts are typically lower in sugar. I like the Fage brand because the fruit is on the side and you can choose how much to add to the yogurt or you can choose to not have it at all. Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt is another good brand that’s low in sugar. Also Sigg’s Icelandic Style.
Lattés- what can one say about lattés? How in the world do you talk your college student out of having this dessert in a cup? Ok, if you must have one, do so in moderation. In my opinion these are a "no, no," but let's face it, your college freshman may not see it that way. I would suggest finding a healthy recipe and see if your college freshman would go for that. If not, we're back to all things in moderation.
Mom, Dad, I hope you’re getting pumped up about what to include in those care packages to mail to your freshman this year or what to pack in the goodie bag when you’re sending them off to school! Pay it forward: If you don’t have anyone that’s college bound, why not choose a college student in your fam