Healthy Snack Options for Eating When You're Busy and On the Go

Chips are everywhere, but there are better options for you: Stick with vegetables and fruits, and choose unprocessed foods when possible.

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Do you have quick food recommendations for busy students who tend to skip breakfast/lunch or who don't have time due to busy scheduling? Are there any grab-and-go options that you would recommend?

From the perspective of nutrition, two principles apply to on-the-go food. Look for fruits and vegetables whenever you can get them, and choose foods that are as unprocessed as possible. The closer you can get to eating basic foods, the more nutrients they contain for their calories -- in nutrispeak, they are of high nutrient density.

To see what options might be available, I went to the dining hall at New York University's Kimmel Student Center. Alas, chips are at every counter and cash register. You can do better.

Some healthy choices are obvious: bananas, pears, and five kinds of apples. Others are carrot packs, yogurt, hard-cooked eggs, and hummus with pretzels.

You have to search hard for the other interesting options. A helpful manager pointed to snack packs of organic dried banana chips, mangos, and goldenberries. Goldenberries look like raisins, which would be another good choice, but I didn't see any. I also didn't find any packages of nuts. These are great as long as you don't eat too many. If you want your dorm cafeteria to carry items like this, ask.

Sandwiches work if they are not too big and unwieldy. The Pret a Manger on Astor Place offers half sandwiches in a stiff, thin cardboard. These are easy to eat on the run.

I avoid power bars. They violate my "no more than five ingredients" rule and I don't particularly like the way they taste. If I want something sweet, I'll go for the dark chocolate Brazil nuts I found at Kimmel. If you just eat a couple at a time, they are worth the price.

Image: Daniel Padavona/Shutterstock.

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This post originally appeared on Food Politics, an Atlantic partner site.

Presented by

Marion Nestle is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics. More

Nestle also holds appointments as Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (revised edition, 2007), Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), and What to Eat (2006). Her most recent book is Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat. She writes the Food Matters column for The San Francisco Chronicle and blogs almost daily at Food Politics.

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