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Healthful snack tips  January 24th, 2013

Isn’t the beginning of the term the best? For me, there’s hope that my classes, if not easy, will be interesting. Plus, there’s slack time while everyone adjusts to their schedules (instructors included). Still, I can’t escape the impending doom of midterms and finals. There’s always too much to do; besides my regular life (friends, family, job) extra homework, projects, and studying await me. As you can see, I’m already experiencing emotional and physical symptoms of stress!

I want it to be different this term. While I can’t prevent the looming deadlines, I know I can be better prepared.

I’ll start by figuring out a routine to help me eat well. Why? A surprising fact about stress is that it can cause unhealthy changes in food preferences. Several studies have shown people increase their consumption of certain foods, especially high-fat and sweet snack foods, when under increased pressure. I can relate. When I’m stressed, I crave cookies and brownies. These simple sugars help me feel better temporarily, but I’m often hungry and irritable when the sugar rush ends so I reach for another goodie and… yep, I repeat the cycle. And what do I end up with? A less-than-productive study session for sure, but I also feel a little bad, both physically and emotionally.These eating habits don’t reflect my desire to be healthy.

So, what’s my plan?

1. Eat regular meals, including breakfast.This will help keep my blood sugar levels more consistent throughout the day and, as Natasha’s breakfast post tells us, may help avoid unhealthy snacking. To help me put together balanced meals, I read April’s post on the MyPlate guidelines.

2.Have healthful snacks on hand. Fruit, nuts, and low- or non-fat dairy products are nutritionally dense snack choices, meaning they offer loads of nutrients for the amount of calories they contain. Nuts do contain a significant number of calories but are a great source of protein and healthy fats when enjoyed in moderation.

Check out my video on Heathful snack ideas for more ideas:

3. Know my tendencies. When I’m running late, I’ll plan ahead by having on-the-go foods to bring with me (once again, take a look at my video for ideas). I can also make extra dinner and take it for lunch. When I don’t want to cook, I can eat on campus. I just learned that the dining halls offer some really healthful fare for reasonable prices.

None of this is new information, but maybe you’ve been stuck in a rut like I’ve been. Sometimes, a little focus and a few ideas are all it takes to develop a new, improved routine that’ll set you up for success. Tell me what you think of these ideas and share with me (and other readers) what works for you. Take good care and BeWell on your journey to continued success!

— Tracy Beckmann, Dietetic Intern


  1. Hopson J, Donatelle R and Littrell T. Get Fit, Stay Well! 2nd Edition. (2012). Benjamin Cummings. Chapter 2; pp. 31-60.
  2. Wallis DJ & Hetherington MM. Emotions and eating. Self-reported and experimentally induced changes in food intake under stress. (2009). Appetite; 52:355-362.
  3. Houghton JD, Wu J, Godwin JL & Neck & Manz CC. Effective Stress Management: A Model of Emotional Intelligence, Self-Leadership and Student Stress Coping. (2012). Journal of Management Education. 36:2; 220-238.