Fuel for Finals Week: What You Should Snack On

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There is actual evidence to show that college students gain weight because of the stress from finals week. It’s a natural habit that we like to reach for the snacks to ease the pain of studying. Often times, we’re not even hungry, but we partake in mindless snacking that can go on for hours. And before you know it, you’ve inhaled an entire bag of potato chips and 20 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. You’ve probably got the pizza delivery guy on speed dial too.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, eh?

But there’s more science to tell you that all that junk doesn’t help you much in the long-run. Not only does it do nothing to fuel your brain or aid your test performance, but it’s unhealthy and will expand your waistband in the future. It sounds pretty obvious to me that, if you’ve just got to snack while studying, then you should reach for healthier options.

I know, you’re sitting there thinking, “Girl, I’m young. I don’t have to eat healthy.” And you probably don’t want to either. But the truth is, the earlier you start treating you body better, the better off you will be. I’m not telling you to give up everything delicious in life and never indulge again; I’m just talking about switching out your normal studying snacks for real brain food.

The common misconception is that brain food equates to raw fruits and veggies, but there are much more exciting options out there if you prefer. Here are some of my favorite snacks that will fuel your brain so you can crush those exams without weighing enough to crush your professors after.

  1. Go nuts. No, but really. There are so many different varieties of nuts that there’s one for everybody, plus they’re salty, crunchy, and delicious. They’re proven to reduce stress and help your brain. And they’ve got protein! Just take it easy on these babies; you only need a handful or two.DSC_7293
  2. Cute & delicious. Teddy Grahams are, in my humble opinion, the cutest snack at the grocery store. You’d think because they’re sweet and targeted at kids that they’re also horrible for you and loaded with sugar, but they’re actually not half-bad. You can have about 30 little bears for around 130 cals, 8g of sugar, and 4g of fat. That ain’t bad! And they come in a plethora of flavors: Chocolaty Chip, Chocolate, Apple, Strawberry Banana, Honey, and Cinnamon.

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    Get the recipe for these PB & Apple Teddy Graham Pretzel Bites on thesmartcookiecook.com
  3. God’s gift to nature: Avocados. I know, you don’t want fruits and veggies, but in my book, avocados don’t count. They are so rich, creamy, and scrumptious that you won’t believe they came straight out of nature. Some people argue they should be classified as cheese because they taste that rich. But half an avocado is only 50 calories, and it’ll amp up anything you spread it on: wraps, sandwiches, veggies, whole wheat pita bread, etc. They are a bit high in fat, but it’s good fat, like in nuts.DSC_6046
  4. Get it poppin’ with plain popcorn. Sound boring? After a lifetime of eating popcorn drenched in fake butter, I never imagined plain popcorn would be any good. As It turns out, I was pleasantly surprised by how addicting and delicious it really is. Just a little bit of salt is enough to make plain popcorn taste like an indulgent snack, but you can have 2 cups for about 40 calories. Score!
  5. Hot and steamy. Did you know sugar-free hot cocoa has only 25 calories? It’s comforting, and it’ll satisfy your sweet tooth, but it won’t put you into a sugar coma afterward.DSC_7464
  6. Cup o’ Joe. Hot coffee has the same comforting qualities as hot cocoa for absolutely zero calories. Just be careful; when you load it up with milk and sugar, it quickly becomes bad for you. Use almond milk or a sugar-free creamer instead. Also, Nectresse is my sugar-free sweetener of choice. It’s not as artificial as other sweeteners.
  7. Take a dip. Hummus is a nutritious but completely delicious and hearty dip that’s perfect for study-time snacking. I only recently fell in love with hummus, but that love quickly grew into an obsession. If you haven’t tried it yet, just give it a shot, and you won’t be disappointed by how creamy and yummy it is. Plus, it tastes good on everything.DSC_8409-6

Those are MY go-to snacks, but here’s what fellow UC students suggested:

  1. Victoria L. – Granola bars (just make sure you look for ones low in sugar), apples, Rice Krispie treats (in moderation – one treat is 90 cal), Subway, and hummus. Did you know you can buy hummus from the Bistro at UC?
  2. Tyler G. – Cheez-Its (in moderation, a handful or two), grapes (try freezing them; they’re like candy), and Chobani yogurt (hello, protein!).

What snacks will you reach for when it’s time to study?

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How to Survive the Final Stretch of the Semester

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If you recorded the amount of stress you have throughout each semester on a graph, it’d probably look the same every time: a short, gradual slope that suddenly shoots up into a steep, ever-increasing mountain. That’s because the assignments become more frequent and more involved the deeper we dive into the semester.

Since we’re at about the 3/4 mark, you’re probably dangling somewhere near the top of the highest peak right now. Not only are you in over your head, but you know you’ve still got more climbing to do before relief is in sight. This is probably your face most of the time:

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I need you to keep hanging in there though. Winter break is just around the corner, and you’ve got this.

Here’s what you can do to keep your head above the water for the remainder of the semester:

  1. Don’t shut down. When things are really overwhelming, it almost feels like you can’t do anything at all, so you want to give up. But instead of losing all hope, try to get just a few simple things done, and you’ll be amazed at how relieved you feel. I did the dishes the other night, and it felt completing a marathon.
  2. Don’t look too far ahead. This one is tricky because you don’t want due-dates to creep up on you. But if you look too far in advance, you’re going to get overwhelmed by the amount of work you still have left. Instead, try just focusing on the next two weeks and say, “Okay, what do I need to get done this week? What can wait?”
  3. Make study guides now. Do you need more than just your notes to study? If you’re like me, you like flashcards and study guides for test prep. However, putting those aids together can be more time-consuming than the actual studying. So, put together as much of your studying material as you can now so you can focus on the actual studying when finals come. A great site I love to use is Quizlet, and there’s an Quizlet iPhone app too. It lets you create electronic flashcards and offers different ways to study them. It’s much more efficient than paper cards.
  4. Check those midterm grades. If you aren’t satisfied, and you want to work on bringing them up, now is the time to do it. Wait any longer, and it might be too late to make enough of a difference. Don’t let yourself be surprised at the end of the semester. Or, if you’re happy with your grades, at least you don’t have to stress about raising them. Just make sure you maintain it!
  5. Create incentives. Tell yourself, if I get this paper done, I can go out with my friends on Saturday, or, if I study for this test for the next couple of hours, I can watch my favorite show tonight. This psychological tactic will motivate to get things done and out of the way.

Those are my tips. What do you do to survive the dreaded final quarter of the semester?

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On studying, slacking and some.

The early bird gets the worm.  I guess there is some truth in that, and in regards to studying, it could not apply more. I’m a senior this year; I’ve seen many students come and go, and with that, the whole spectrum of studying habits: everything from your child-prodigy-never-had-to-study to the perennial slacker and everything in between. I’ve seen teachers pets so eager to jump down their professors throats that they over prepare and become crippled with anxiety  when it comes time to do tests.

My style, however, is more gung-ho. I’m quite an obsessive person, so when I’m in the mood to do some studying, some studying is going to get done. I understand that everyone has their own personal style and preference when it comes to studying, but I cannot stress enough the importance of good planning matched with good execution. More often than not, that is the difference between students who succeed and those who do not.

With that being said, I’m writing this post at 2 in the AM, with a midterm early tomorrow morning and a lab practical the day after.  I guess you could say I’ve been productive, productively slacking that is.

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