Finals week is upon us, bringing with it all the built-up stress from the year, piles of final projects and studying to be done, and lines out the door at the lib and the coffee shops. It’s hard to stay on track and remember to eat (and eat healthily!) in the midst of all that is the end of the semester; I know that for me my freshman year I lived off the thought of my mom’s cooking and double-shot espresso.
However not eating, or not eating well can have a massive negative effect on the body and mind, especially during such a stressful and high focus period of time. When a person doesn’t eat when they need to for any period of time the hypothalamus, the region of the brain that controls the balance of the body sends out signs to tell you that you need to eat. Ignoring these signs can actually affect your ability to focus on tasks and decreases your level of comprehension and memory. Low blood sugar, often a symptom of not eating, can increase your chances of becoming fatigued and having low or no energy, which clearly is not great for high-intensity studying.
So while it may seem like just skipping a meal or snagging something to-go may be the best option for time management, it’ll come back to bite you when you crash later on. Skipping the temptation of greasy dining hall food and saving time by skipping the long lines at dining halls are two things you can do by meal prepping and eating in your dorm room, and by doing so you can prevent the finals week slouch.
- 5 Ingredient Peanut Butter Bites: These power bites are a perfect way to start your day off with the nutrients you need, without the taste of typical energy foods. Make a batch for the whole week, and freeze the ones you don’t eat for a simple and filling dessert.
- Blueberry Muffin Mug Cake: There’s nothing better than warm pastries in the morning. Mix up a big batch of the dry ingredients and mix as needed, or just make as you go along; either way, enjoy the sweet start to your day!
- Overnight Oats: While they may take longer than microwave oats, the wait is well worth it. This link has seven different ideas for mix-ins, including Almond Joy and German chocolate cake.
Lunches and Dinners:
- Omelette in a Mug: I know, I know, eggs are breakfast foods, but as a breakfast lover, I think eggs should be an all-day food. Besides, eggs are a good source of high-quality protein, making this meal filling and perfect for mid-day, or the second wind before a long night of studying.
- Couscous Greek Salad: This recipe is a little complicated, but all of the ingredients can be found in the market. It would also be great cold, so it can be made in bulk and saved for a while. It’s full of great high-quality fats and mixed vegetables.
- Elevated Mac-n-Cheese: This recipe again calls for a lot of ingredients, but considering it’s the end of the year, you may have room to splurge with your swipes. Or instead, you could substitute many of the “fancy” ingredients for more simple, college budget-friendly options. No matter what, it’s a good base dish that can help tide you over on comfort food until you’re back to home-cooked heaven.
- Packaged granola bars: Brands like KIND, Lärabar, and Luna have some great tasting and nutritious options to help stretch time between meals when your schedule doesn’t permit a break.
- Hummus and veggies/pretzels: Cut up your own veggies and pair them with your choice of hummus rather than buying them pre-packaged. Try to stick more with the carrots and the greens, but you can always bring along pretzels to shake things up.
- Green tea: Another issue at this time of year is overeating out of stress. Never skip a meal, and listen to your body when it does feel hungry, but if you’ve just eaten and you’re already ready for the next meal, try drinking a cup of hot green tea instead. Green tea is full of antioxidants and has been said to help with focus; The warmth fills you up fast, and the caffeine is perfect for that extra kick when you need it.
This finals season, don’t fall into the trap of the stress and strain. Keep your eating habits healthy and conscious; your body will thank you later!