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Stress-Eating Solutions

by Kevin Saez

How to stay on track while under pressure

The best way to snack while under stress Photo Credit: aerial_m (flickr)

The best way to snack while under stress
Photo Credit: aerial_m (flickr)

 There is probably one thing on every student’s mind at the end of the semester: finals. With a packed week of studying and exams coming up, it is important to remember to eat well and to continue to make healthy choices in future times of stress. Maintaining a healthy diet will not only give you the energy you need to study, but also keep you feeling healthy and ready for your exams. It may seem easier and be a habit to skip meals during stressful times, but putting just a small amount of effort into eating well will definitely pay off.
     When you are studying, make sure to have your meals and snacks planned and ready to go. If you know you have a few days where you will be going nonstop, pack some ready to eat meals and snacks. Easy meals that you can make ahead of time are brown rice with sautéed vegetables and either chicken or beans, which can be made in bulk and are good when heated up. For snacks, be prepared for any late night cravings that pop up. Have some dark chocolate on hand if you want something sweet. For a more substantial snack, break up the dark chocolate and mix it into Greek yogurt.
     If you want something you can just mindlessly munch on, go with popcorn; if you are buying it premade, try to find one with just corn, oil and salt. Avoid prepackaged brands with too many ingredients or a lot of calories. Popcorn should be a light and healthy snack.
     Another more filling idea is homemade trail mix; combine a handful of nuts with some raisins or dried cranberries. Having some of these snacks ready-to-go will ensure that when you are suddenly hungry and need a pick-me-up you will avoid the vending machine’s loads of sugar and fat that will just leave you feeling heavy.
     Try to avoid coffee or energy drinks too late as well since they may interfere with your sleep. It may be tempting to pull an all-nighter to study, but do your best to get a solid night’s sleep. If you are used to staying up very late and then wake up feeling exhausted, try going to sleep when you are tired and setting an early alarm to wake-up and finish studying. You will remember more when you are awake and not thinking about getting to bed.
     On exam day, the first and most obvious thing you can do is to eat a good breakfast; eat some whole grains, protein and fat  to start your day. If you skip breakfast, you may suddenly feel hungry during your exam and low blood sugar could lead to your mind not being as clear as it needs to be. If you need something quick such as a bagel, try to find one made with 100 percent whole wheat and put some peanut butter on it to add some healthy fats and protein that will leave you feeling full throughout your exams.
      If you have several back-to-back exams, the same rules apply as studying. Have snacks and meals prepared if you can, to help keep your day running smoothly and avoid frantic searches for food when you have a 15 minute break.
     Need something on campus? Look for a smoothie at Au Bon Pain at Café Diem. They are made with yogurt and can give you something sweet that can be taken to-go. If you want to grab a bar, try a brand with a few ingredients but at least 10 grams of protein and under 200 calories. Filling up on junk will only leave you feeling run down and unprepared and may give you some regret when you emerge from finals week. Good luck on your exams!

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