Finals fuel: snacks to get you through finals week

By Marissa Vertes

(Dobrin Isabela/ Flickr)
(Dobrin Isabela/ Flickr)

As the semester comes to a close, the dreaded finals week approaches. Late nights can take a toll on the body, and usually during this time in the school year, the student diet suffers. High sodium and high sugar snacking can negatively affect focus levels and alertness, as well as mood and energy levels. In order to get through this stressful time it is important to be eating a diet of whole and healthy foods, specifically foods which promote energy without weighing you down.

One of my personal favorite snacks is veggies and hummus. This snack is not only convenient – you can make it in the dining hall – but also extremely healthy for you. Hummus is very high in carbohydrates, so it gives your body energy to keep functioning and performing well. This is crucial for studying since staying alert and remaining focused is a huge issue that many students face during this time. In addition, vegetables like carrots and celery are also high in carbohydrates and are also easily accessible at the dining halls. I highly recommend this snack for its nutritional content, not to mention its tastiness. The crunchiness of the vegetables makes it a good replacement for unhealthy snacks like potato chips. Substituting unhealthy snacks with healthy snacks that provide a similar texture can help the transition for people not in the habit of nutritious snacking.

Another snack that is really great for studying is frozen blueberries dipped in Greek yogurt. Although this snack takes a bit of preparation, it is a perfect alternative to candy. The Greek yogurt creates a sweet, smooth coating over the flavorful, juicy berries, making this snack is sweet and easy to keep eating. For this food, all you will need is a pint of blueberries and a small container of vanilla or blueberry Greek yogurt. In order to prepare the blueberries, take a toothpick and dip blueberries into the yogurt, and then line them up on a baking sheet. After, freeze the blueberries for an hour or so, and they are ready to eat. Blueberries are high in antioxidants, which helps reduce brain fatigue and improve brain function. A study conducted by Willis, Shukitt, and Joseph called “Recent advances in berry supplementation and age-related cognitive decline,” concludes that the flavonoids (plant metabolites) linger in the brain and improve central nervous function over time. So, this snack is flavorful, and it will help you perform better.

Lastly, popcorn is a great healthy alternative for chips and other unhealthy snacks. Surprisingly, many students already consume popcorn without realizing it is actually one of the healthier alternatives on the market. Popcorn is high in fiber and whole grains, so it keeps digestion in your body regular, which will help you feel less fatigued while studying since your body is functioning normally. In addition, popcorn keeps blood sugar levels regular due to the high fiber content. This quality is crucial for being able to function normally when studying. Low blood sugar leads to fatigue, and according to the European Food Information Council, low blood sugar will decrease short term memory and alertness. In order to stay alert, it is important that you have foods that are high in fiber, and popcorn is a great resource for this. Fresh popped popcorn is the healthier choice compared to microwave, buttered alternatives, but, if microwave popcorn is your only option, I suggest looking for a low butter and low salt alternative. If plain popcorn is not flavorful enough for your tastes, there are a variety of ways to spice up your popcorn including adding some cinnamon and nutmeg, drizzling a little bit of honey on top or sprinkling over some cacoa powder.

All of this being said, it is important to remember that during this busy time it is important to focus not only on your diet, but on your mental and physical health as well. Eat whole foods and foods with high nutritional value to enhance your ability to focus and study for longer and remember to stay hydrated, especially with the heat turning up, but also make sure to stay mindful and active. If you are stressed, take a walk, go for a run, go to the gym or play some sports outside with friends. If you are tired, take time to yourself to get some sleep or to listen to some music or watch some TV.

Finals is approaching quickly, but by taking care of yourself through watching what you snack on, staying active and being mindful you can fly through it with focus and determination, all while staying healthy at the same time.

Marissa Vertes can be reached at [email protected].