How To (Not) Stress Eat During Exam Season

Whether it’s midterms or finals, exam season can be overwhelming. During these times, it can be difficult to keep up with a healthy eating schedule, especially with nutritious foods that will keep your brain and body energized and prepared for your exams. Stress can cause some students to eat excessively and others to not eat enough. Fortunately, there are some ways you can help ensure you’re eating a healthy amount.

This article provides helpful tips to make sure you get the nutrients you need during finals week, whether you’re snacking through a night-time study session or rolling out of bed early for an 8 a.m. test.

1. Eat on a schedule

Yes, between attending review sessions and office hours and hiding away in Powell it can get a little difficult to eat regular meals every day. However, sitting down to some yummy food is a great way to not only recharge your body, but give your mind a nice break from studying as well.

If you’re someone who eats a lot during stressful times, eating regular meals will help your body get the proper nutrients it needs so you will naturally get full and stay full. This can help to prevent overeating later.

If you’re someone who eats less during stressful times, eating regular meals will help your body recognize when you need to eat, even if your body isn’t sending you its regular cues.

These meals should consist of a whole plate, with various types of nutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, healthy fats, and vitamins) to ensure that your body has everything it needs to carry you through your long study sessions.

2. Pack healthy snacks

When sitting in Powell, YRL, or wherever you like to study, it’s important to have good food on hand. Your brain is doing a lot of work, so your body may get more drained than usual, and require more sustenance than just your regular daily meals.

Fortunately, healthy snacks don’t have to be bland, there’s a variety of snacks full of flavor to keep your taste buds and intellect alive. Here are a few healthy snacks you can try:

  • A handful of nuts and blueberries: Nuts offer a variety of health benefits, whether you’re into almonds, cashews, or walnuts. Blueberries help to provide your body with fiber, natural sugars, and antioxidants that can help to keep you focused and are even said to improve memory).
  • Dark chocolate and peanut butter: Dark chocolate is not only delicious, but studies show it can help memory and thinking skills. Peanut butter offers protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates. Plus, it may satisfy that crunchy, salty craving that might usually drive you to potato chips.
  • Carrots and hummus: The beta-carotene in carrots can not only improve memory, but will keep your vision sharp as well. Pair that with hummus full of nutrients to keep your energy up, and you’ll be ready to take on your exams.

3. Hydrate

Hydration is one of the most important aspects to keep your brain alert, your body energized and your appetite under control. Caffeine-fueled late night study sessions can cause your body to become more dehydrated than usual, so it’s especially important during these times to make sure you’re drinking enough water.

Drinks such as coffee and tea are shown to not cause dehydration when consumed in healthy amounts. However, energy drinks can not only cause issues with dehydration, but also make it difficult to focus.

Dehydration can often be mistaken by your body as hunger. This can cause your body to crave food even when it’s not hungry. Making sure to stay hydrated is another great way to keep your body’s cravings in check.

Make sure to keep your body and brain energized with healthy and nutritional foods during exam season so you can bring your A-game!

Aurora Finley is an undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in English. Along with blogging for the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative, she is the Sexperts Executive Director for the 2017-18 academic year. She is also a regular volunteer for UCLA’s Habitat for Humanity chapter and blogs for the online UCLA Odyssey community.

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