I think we all know the feeling — sitting in the library, overcome with writer’s block, exhausted from lack of sleep and looking forward to another nearly sleepless night before a final the next morning. The coffee doesn’t work anymore, the Red Bull is empty and it’s closer to tomorrow than it is to today. So, asking a stranger to watch your laptop, you drag that sack of bones you call a body across the PLC parking lot.
In the distance, a beacon of light calls to you on the corner of 13th Avenue and Alder Street — the holy grail for stressed-out students: 7-Eleven.
The thing is, you don’t really feel hungry, but you want a break from looking at a screen. Plus, you just feel like you need something salty, or sweet, or greasy or all in one.
What you’re probably feeling is stress, not hunger. Emotional eating is a huge part of the finals regimen, and eating the right things can seriously make or break you. But I’m not one to tell you not to eat what you want during finals week. Taking care of yourself is important, and it’s some ridiculous dieting website’s job to tell you otherwise, not me. So practice self-care and accept that free Voodoo doughnut that people are giving out in the library. You do deserve it, you scholar.
But like all things, moderation is key. Balance your junkier foods with healthy ones.
Haylee Metzner, a junior in human physiology, says that crunch foods (both healthy and unhealthy) are her weakness.
“Chips, carrots, pretzels and apples are always my normal snacks while studying,” she said. “But I eat Flaming Hot Cheetos in unhealthy amounts. I do try to keep it in moderation, though.” @@[email protected]@
Identifying physical hunger versus emotional hunger is key in controlling emotional eating. Did the hunger come gradually or suddenly? Can the snacking wait, or do you need it right this instant? Do you stop eating when you’re satisfied or full, or do you stop when you hate yourself?
The latter of these questions are signs of emotional eating. Here are a few things to keep you from munching too hard while studying.
Oatmeal: As both a carbohydrate and a high-fiber food, oatmeal gives you a boost of serotonin (That’s the carbohydrates) and keeps you full and satisfied longer (That’s the fiber.) Go crazy with the toppings — dried or fresh fruit, chocolate chips or my favorite — peanut butter and jelly.
High-potassium foods: The American Heart Association calls potassium an important nutrient in controlling high blood pressure, a symptom of stress. Sweet potatoes, bananas, low-fat yogurt, leafy greens and oranges are all potassium rich.
(Butter-free) popcorn: Even if you want butter and salt on your popcorn, buy a plain variety and add seasonings (Don’t just stop at the salt and butter — try olive oil, hot sauce, dried herbs or nutritional yeast.)
Tea: Find a brand and variety you like and get crazy with it. Coffee and energy drinks might have the caffeine fix you’re looking for but can make you crash even harder later. Teas, even the caffeinated ones, have a subtler boost of energy and easy comedown. For stress, Townshend’s employees recommend their uplifting mood tonic Stress Less, with chamomile, lemon verbena and lemongrass. Also, Clear Mind is said to support “deep intellectual practices,” with sage, rosemary and peppermint.