What to eat during finals week, according to University experts


Ben Tschetter

A visitor at Curtis Orchard & Pumpkin Patch picks an apple. Assistant professor of nutrition Juan Andrade said healthier snacks are the best choice during finals week, whereas associate professor in nutrition Manabu Nakamura said sweets are acceptable.

By Niani Scott, Staff Writer

Food is a key component in people’s lives, and finals week can take a toll on routine eating schedules students implemented at the beginning of the semester.

“The most important thing is that students should eat throughout finals week,” said Juan Andrade, assistant professor of nutrition. “(Students) have more than one exam during finals week, and that adds to the agony of, ‘I don’t have time to eat.’”

Mindful eating, or being aware of what you’re consuming, is also important when studying for finals.

“I would highly emphasize being mindful about eating patterns. If possible, eat without distractions. Set the time to actually sit down and eat the meal rather than studying (and) trying to multi-task,” said Isabel Martinez, graduate student in AHS.

According to Andrade, some of the best snacks to eat are nuts, dried food and seeds. Nuts are packed with nutrients and healthy fats. Yogurt (non-dairy and dairy), boiled eggs and a glass of milk are also recommended sources of nutrition and hydration.

“Avoid things that are high in sugar,” Martinez said.

Martinez said sugars sustain hunger for a short time, cause a dip in blood sugar and lead to crashing.

However, associate professor of nutrition Manabu Nakamura said sweets are acceptable food choices during finals week.

“(Sweets) makes you happy, right? If you stay up longer and are working longer, then you need extra energy. Sweets (are) not a bad thing at all,” Nakamura said. “You cannot live on sweet treats, but in this special condition (of finals week), I definitely recommend you eat the things you like to eat.”

Nakamura said students should not be concerned about the long-term effects of indulging during finals weeks.

“You may gain a couple of pounds. So what? That’s fine. You can lose it later,” Nakamura said.

Overeating is ill-advised as it may cause fatigue, Martinez said.

“Eat until you feel comfortable but not stuffed, otherwise you will feel sleepy and that’s not going to help you with studying,” Martinez said. “First and foremost, (healthy eating) is going to help you perform at your best.”

Other things to avoid are drinking too much caffeine, losing sleep and over-consuming energy drinks.

“The main ingredient of energy drinks is a high level of caffeine. If you over consume caffeine, unwanted side effects like jitteriness and sickness will increase rather than sustained alertness,” Nakamura said in an email.

According to Andrade, food is just one part of the equation to acing an exam.

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