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Healthy Snacks and Dining Hall Hacks

Winter is coming—and something about the winter blues makes eating healthy so much more difficult.  For many, the end of the semester brings a spiral of sleepless nights, copious caffeine, sugary snacks, and most unfortunately, low self-esteem and negative body image. 

But instead of focusing on a societally imposed standard of beauty and size, HCND wants you to focus on you.  For yourself and no one else.  So we’ve brought you a list of healthy snacks and dining hall hacks—to keep you healthy, energized, and positive-minded this winter. 


Coffee Crazy

Instead of shelling out the big bucks for fancy coffee-flavored specialty drinks, try drinking tea instead! Whether you’re a fan of cozy-up-next-to-the-fireplace flavors like chai, gingerbread and, yes, pumpkin spice, or whether you’d rather be transported to warmer climates with flavors like Good Earth’s “Sweet and Spicy”, tea (and the Huddle) has a flavor for you!  Not only will you cut out tons of sugar and fat from your day, when you do need that extra caffeine boost, a cup of coffee will be much more effective. 

If you do insist on coffee (trust me you’re not alone), try drinking it black or with soy or almond milk instead.  And since caffeine is a diuretic, make sure you’re staying hydrated. For every cup of coffee/tea you drink, you should be drinking an extra cup of water!

Skip the Chips

We know how it is—late night studying (and other activities) sometimes requires that salt fix, often solved by chips or fries.  But the next morning you wake up feeling sick to your stomach and hating last-night you for indulging.  So here are our much healthier go-to snacks to get rid of the “munchies”:

–Crunchy Veggies: Smuggle out some carrots, bell pepper slices, cucumbers from either DH salad bar. A Ziplock baggie counts as one item, right? 

Pita and Hummus: Protein-packed to stop the munchies from coming back.  

*Dining Hall Hack: Save a container from the grab-n-go version, and make your own from either dining hall’s salad bar!

Snap Pea Crisps and Veggie Chips: Snap, crackle, and pop without the potato. (Sold at the Huddle)

Popcorn: Skinny Pop, Pop-Chick-A-Boom, or just plain ole microwaveable.  (Disclaimer: I do not mean the “Butter-Lover’s” versions)


Power up Your Protein

You’re not yourself when you’re hungry. But instead of grabbing a Snickers bar, reach for one of these healthier options that will stave off hunger till your next trip to the dining hall.

–Granola & Protein Bars: Beware of sugar wolves in “healthy” packaging, but Nature Valley and KIND bars are generally safe options!

*Dining Hall Hack: Bear Naked Bars at NDH grab-n-go!

–Greek Yogurt: Eat it plain, mix in granola or fruit, or stock up to put in smoothies.

*Dining Hall Hack: Yoplait Greek at NDH grab-n-go and Chobani at the Huddle!

–Nuts & Trail Mix:  Get creative! The Huddle has a lot of options, too.

*Dining Hall Hack: At NDH on the weekends, they have an oatmeal bar, where you can find walnuts, cranberries, chocolate chips, sunflower seeds, and other very worthy trail mix ingredients.

–Apples and Peanut Butter: If you have a little ingenuity and some Tupperware, you’ll never have to buy either of these things. Also, carrots with peanut butter is great, too, but people think I’m weird for that. 

–String Cheese: Childhood is calling. 


Sugar Rush

One good thing about winter is the frigid cold makes eating ice cream slightly less appealing.  But the candy wall and Starbuck’s frappuccinos are just so tempting sometimes…In times like those, I turn to my handy-dandy, mini blender and some strategic Huddle shopping.

Fruit: Duh. Not to keep hyping NDH, but we have kiwis, pears and apples other than Red Delicious. 

–Banana Ice Cream or Smoothie:  Snag some bananas from the DH.  Peel, slice, freeze.  Mix with almond or soymilk, blend, and voilà! Try adding in some peanut butter and/or chocolate protein powder for a meal replacement smoothie.

–Berry Breakfast Smoothie:

Frozen berries (might require a grocery run), Greek yogurt and almond milk

*Dining Hall Hack: Bring a spare water bottle to NDH. There’s a mini fridge by the cereals filled with almond and soymilk.  That counts as your one allowable beverage!

–Juice: Generally juice should be avoided for its vast amount of sugar and lack of actual fruit.  But when you need a boost, Naked, Odwalla, or Bolthouse farms are definitely better options than energy drinks.  Most are high in fiber and vitamins, but check the labels first!

–Dark Chocolate:  It’s true what they say about the antioxidants and stress-reducing qualities of dark-chocolate.  And wine for that matter.  You’re welcome. 


School is important, but it’s not more important than taking care of your body.  Keep a stash of good snacks in your backpack so you won’t reach for something unhealthy when your stomach starts complaining at you.  Go tray-less at the DH—you’ll be more selective about food quality and quantity and reduce food and water waste!  Make time for exercise (finding an accountabilibuddy always helps).  Juggling everything life throws at you, including your own health and well-being,  is a challenge.  But you’re so worth it. 





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MJ Jackson

Notre Dame

Meadow Jackson is a senior at the University of Notre Dame studying Political Science, Japanese, and the Art of Procrastination. Her goals in life are to work toward world peace, run a marathon, and somehow earn a lifetime supply of coffee (not necessarily in that order). She loves learning languages, traveling, eating copious amounts of vegetarian food, and finding hole-in-the-wall cafés in all corners of the world (where she can do all of these things at once). Feel free to email her at any time at mjacks12@nd.edu (especially if you have any information on how to win a lifetime supply of coffee ).
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