Calming Foods For Finals
by Riley Sugarman
Photography by Cassandra Chan
The age-old stereotype that depicts college students as broke, ramen-eating balls of stress is nothing short of spot-on. Even heirs and heiresses living in high-scale apartments struggle to find accessible and nutritious foods due to intense schedules filled with classes, clubs, social lives and the occasional nap.
Nutrition is something most college students tend to place at the bottom of their to-do lists. With a final in 10 hours, most see no sense in putting the breaks on studying to go find a healthy dinner when they have chips and ready-to-make mac ’n’ cheese.
Stephanie Feliciano (CAS ’18) lives in an apartment, giving her the full ability to choose what she puts into her body. However, like most students, her access to a kitchen doesn’t mean she takes the time to stock her refrigerator with healthy foods.
“I buy all of my food but never prepare meals,” said Feliciano. “Usually I eat out or buy things that are quick and easy to make because food is expensive in Boston, and it’s hard to find great food at a cheap price.”
Luckily, stores such as Star Market, City Convenience and Target have nutritious foods proven to reduce stress at competitive prices, and students can stay on Commonwealth Avenue while they shop.
Avocados are tasty, portable and easily customizable with meals. Anxiety correlates with B vitamin deficiency, which is necessary for healthy nerves and brain cells. Avocadoes contain an abundance of B vitamins, so adding them to grocery lists may relieve anxiety.
Eating a whole avocado is a tasty power-snack, but it could be turned into a small meal by adding it to toast and topping it with chopped tomatoes.
Blueberries are sold everywhere from CVS to Trader Joes, but most don’t know these little guys are the superheroes of stress busting. According to Health Magazine, “The antioxidants found in berries fight in your defense, helping improve your body’s response to stress and fight stress-related free radicals.”
Instead of reaching for M&Ms, grab a pint of blueberries to relieve stress during finals. Put them in cereal, on toast or eat them straight out of the bag.
Dark chocolate is the juice cleanse of sweets, if consumed in moderation. It contains antioxidants that increase serotonin—which enhances mood—and decrease blood pressure—which can help with relaxation.
A pack of mini dark chocolates is healthier and better for anxiety than that Kit Kat next to the cash register. Adding it to the snack drawer is only beneficial, so switch out the candy bar for some dark chocolate to indulge in during study time.
Eggs don’t require access to a kitchen because pre-made hardboiled eggs are available at all supermarkets and most convenience stores. Eggs, like avocados, are packed with B vitamins, which are proven to reduce stress by regulating the nervous system.
Hardboiled eggs can be easily stored in a refrigerator, and students with access to a kitchen can stick with hardboiled or quickly prepare scrambled or over-easy eggs before rushing to class.
While some foods are great at helping to relieve anxiety when studying for finals, some can actually increase stress and should be avoided.
That’s right, the sole reason compelling most college students to leave their beds in the morning can cause the most anxiety. According to Shape Magazine, “caffeine stimulates your nervous system, which means too much can lead to a rapid heartbeat and increase in blood pressure.”
Some students will have difficulty cutting coffee out completely, especially during finals, so ordering a Refresher at Starbucks or limiting daily consumption can help relieve stress.
Margaret Frawley (SAR ’18) realized the effect coffee had on her when she had no access to her Keurig while studying for an exam.
“I was able to study all weekend and ended up getting an A,” Frawley said. “Now I definitely cut out caffeine during exam weeks because I know it makes me feel more anxious.”
With the plethora of clubs, bars and liquor stores in around campus, of-age students have no problem consuming alcohol. Students may think drinking a glass of wine will take the edge off, but alcohol causes the body to produce the same hormones released during times of stress. As such, it may be wise to stick with water instead to stay hydrated.
Good luck studying, and may the curve be ever in your favor.