This Letter to the Editors was submitted by Hannah Tower, Nutrition Assistant for Dining Services at Concordia College.
Finals are one of the most stressful times of the year for college students, and it is important to remember not to throw all your healthy habits out the window. It is all too easy to fall into the routine of guzzling down energy drinks and caffeinated beverages and munching on chips and pizza while studying. Although finals are important, staying healthy should be a priority because when our bodies are properly fueled we perform our best. Here are some tips for staying healthy during finals.
First, keep healthy snacks on hand. When the only foods you have are chips, soda and candy bars, that is all you are going to eat. Instead, try keeping fresh fruits and vegetables, string cheese, whole-wheat crackers, peanut butter, nuts, unbuttered popcorn, yogurt and plenty of water on hand. These foods will sustain you longer, so when it comes down to crunch time you will have all of the energy you need.
Secondly, take it easy on the caffeine. Normally when pulling an all-nighter, it is second nature to grab an energy drink or large coffee. Be careful when consuming large amounts of caffeine because it can lead to being jittery, losing focus and increasing nervousness. Try and keep caffeine consumption to fewer than 400 mg per day and make sure to stay hydrated with plenty of water. A 16 oz. Starbucks coffee has 330 mg of caffeine, a 16 oz. Citrus Rockstar has 240 mg of caffeine and a 12 oz. can of Mountain Dew has about 54 mg. Also, avoid consuming caffeinated beverages late at night because it may hinder sleep.
Also, keep a regular schedule and eat well-balanced meals. As hard as this can be during finals, try and make time to eat well-balanced meals. By doing so it will be easier to focus and concentrate for longer periods of time. Also, eating regular meals contributes to stable energy and nutrient levels, which can prevent the overeating of high calorie, low nutrient snacks.
Finally, exercise. Being active triggers the production of the feel good neurotransmitters in the brain called endorphins. After participating in some form of exercise you will find that you are less worried, stressed and were focused on the single task of working out. Also, regular exercise can increase self-confidence and improve sleep. The next time you need a study break, head over to Olson Forum and work out!