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Eating Your Way Through Finals

up all night

I originally wanted to create quick, healthy recipes you can make during finals season (or taxes, or if you have a presentation at work to give, etc.), until I realized that no one can bring himself or herself to prepare a meal when they feel so overwhelmed with work! So here are my tips for how to survive periods of sheer stress:

Stay hydrated. Without a doubt, the most important thing to do to keep you going is to drink water. Sugary drinks can give you a quick boost but then make you crash, and too much caffeinated coffee will cause you to depend on it, and crash when you don’t have it. Having enough water in your body helps flush out toxins and waste, which prevents your heart from working too hard to pump oxygenated blood to all of the cells in your body (which will leave you feeling tired). Especially during a time when people eat unhealthy fast foods like fattening sandwiches and candy bars that you can eat on the go, water flushes out the by-products of fat breakdown, which will both help you lose weight AND keep you going throughout the day. Additionally, your brain is mostly MADE of water, so it’s important to keep your brain full when you need it most! Water also helps prevent disease and the flu, which is incredibly important during a time when one can simply NOT afford to get sick. Trust me: I had to take finals after summer break due to a health emergency—you do not want to get sick!

Always have a snack handy. As a professional hoarder, I always have a surplus of “points” to spend in the various on-campus dining halls at the end of the semester. Use these to pick up healthy snacks, like Sabra’s pre-packaged pretzels with hummus, Nutrigrain bars, and trail mix. And if not, buy a box of granola bars and hand-held fruit like apples and bananas to last you for a week. This way, even if you are in a panic, there is something in your bag to keep you going, so you won’t be left to grab the first unhealthy thing you see. I usually study in my school’s Hillel building, which provides tea and snacks like granola bars and cereal during reading week. My periodic snack breaks keep me focused during my study-streaks.

Set times to eat. If you have already decided when you sit down in the library at 9:30 am that you will go to lunch at 12:45 pm, the deadline will (a) give you motivation to work diligently until that time and (b) ensure that you don’t skip a meal. Skipping a meal will slow down your metabolism, which makes your body slow down as well. When I hear people complain that they worked right through lunch and they’re “STARVINGGGGGG,” I feel very little pity because or admiration for how hard they worked. In the long run, treating your body well is more important than making a martyr of yourself. You can use your lunch and dinner times as an opportunity to spend time with someone one last time before the semester ends, have a study date, or just relax by yourself.

Eat foods with the vitamins you need. Oranges for Vitamin C, eggs for Vitamin B, broccoli or hamburgers for Iron, and milk for Vitamin D. Having the essential vitamins and minerals will keep your body going when you most need it.

Get some sunshine. Besides from providing you with Vitamin D, fresh air and sun will help clear your mind and boost your positive thinking. It’s also very important to get a change of scenery every once in a while so that you don’t get “textbook hypnosis,” my diagnosis for the condition in which you read the same paragraph over and over again without remembering or digesting any of it. And of course, you should enjoy the Spring weather!