Quit the study stress binge
Yes, its finally that dreaded time- the end of your semester, yes you are ALMOST done except for the 5 exams or assignments that you decided to leave till last minute because you are a pro procrastinator AND YES, this does mean copious amounts of study stress, spontaneously crying, undeserved naps and thoughts about leaving the country forever. This also means an insane amount of snacking or binge eating during study sessions.
Yep… We’ve all been there.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, our stress unleashes hormones that push us towards high fat, sugary foods aka “comfort foods”. While initially, stress causes our appetites to shut down, long-term stress releases a hormone called cortisol that increases our appetite and ramps up motivation, including the motivation to eat.
So why all the junk food? The study shows that fat and sugar-filled foods respond the most to the part of the brain that produces and processes stress-related hormones. They counteract stress by making you feel comforted, hence the name “comfort foods”. This leads many people to overeat or binge on foods that they don’t really need.
Now, we can’t really sit your exams for you or do your assignments, however, we can help curb that appetite and offer some realistic alternatives for your study binge eating ways.
Here are 5 popular foods that may tempt you on a daily basis and 5 healthier alternatives to them.
Something we’re all guilty of tbh. I’m not proud of the fact that I can finish a whole block of Cadbury milk in one sitting.
The alternative is carob. (Juuust kidding! That tastes like unhappiness mixed with wax.)
Your healthy alternative is actually dark chocolate. Simple right? You don’t have to cut out chocolate from your diet at all, just switch to a healthier version. Different brands have different cocoa levels/ flavours so have a browse and pick according to taste. Not only is it delicious, it’s also good for you. Dark chocolate is known to lower the risk of heart disease and is a great source of antioxidants, so go nuts!
This one is a no-brainer. Too much sugar is a bad, bad thing, especially for studying. It burns you out and doesn’t do anything for your health. If you do get a burst of energy, it’s usually for a short period of time. So, do yourself a favour and put the skittles down. Instead, opt for almonds, blueberries, yogurt, trail mix or HUMMUS (hummus is life). You’ll feel good about yourself when purchasing them and you’ll be spared from Sharon the cashier’s lowkey judgy looks, “That’s right Sharon, I’ve moved on from chocolate coated Oreos and Doritos. Now scan my hummus.”
Another alternative is fruit! That’s right, fruit. So simple. Good old fruit that’s’ always been there. No, it’s not lame. Being a 20 something-year-old who eats Nerds as a snack is lame (lol jkz Nerds are delicious), but seriously, eat some fruit! Remember how you put that apple in your bag that one day thinking you’ll eat it but you didn’t instead you bought something else, and then you discovered the old mouldy apple a week later and thought “omg I totally forgot about this apple!”, then the next day you put another apple in your bag telling yourself that THIS TIME you’ll really eat it but then you didn’t? Remember?
EAT THE DAMN APPLE.
While a 100g bag of Smiths is over 521 calories, a 100g bag of “lite buttered” popcorn is 354 calories so it’s pretty easy to figure out which is the healthier alternative. It’s also a cheaper alternative if you opt for the $1 microwave popcorn. Plus almost every university has access to a microwave so you shouldn’t have any issues making it, IN FACT, your peers may even thank you for killing the gross smell of tuna/miscellaneous lunches before with the smell of yummy popcorn! BE THE ENVY OF EVERYONE AROUND.
DO NOT DRINK THEM. Having that jolt of energy is definitely tempting but you’re pretty much guzzling a ton of sugar. Most energy drinks have about 37-40 grams of sugar in them which equals to almost 8-10 teaspoons of sugar!
And yes, it’s probably smart to avoid the sugar-free versions as well because they still have artificial flavours, dyes and preservatives.
Your healthy alternative is coffee, it’s a more natural source of caffeine and has waaaay less sugar. Of course, too much caffeine can leave you jittery and anxious. A healthier way to keep a steady stream of energy is to fill your water bottle/flask with green tea which has about 25-30 mg of caffeine per bag. Drop one or two bags it in your water bottle and keep it next to you while you study. It’s best to reach for green tea after your second or third cup of coffee (depending on the length of your study session). It keeps you from feeling jittery and has a huge list of health benefits from improving brain activity and dental health to antioxidants that help lower the risk of cancer.
Fast food /Eating out
To be completely honest, after a long day of uni and work it’s hard to motivate yourself to cook something relatively healthy, which is why eating out is such a common and easy alternative. We’re all guilty of it and can safely say that its hard to quit the habit. It’s pretty much a one-way train ride to gaining weight fast and not the good kind, it’s the “hello double chin” and “oh.. wow so these pants shrunk in the wash” kind. Those pants did not shrink in the wash, trust me.
Your healthy alternative to this problem is to meal prep. It may sound annoying or time-consuming but it really isn’t. An easy way to meal prep is to dedicate a few hours Sunday evening to make a large amount of one dish and then divide it into containers for each uni/work day. Think simple, easy dishes like stir fry’s, chilli con carne, or chicken and veggies. Meal prepping saves you from cooking all week, spending any additional money and curbs excessive snacking/eating junk. Plus, it only takes you 1-2 hours one night a week.
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