5 Tips for Eating Healthy During Midterm Season

After summer winds down and September rolls around, I always find myself so excited to get back to school. But somehow, I manage to forget about the fact that midterm season kicks in around the second week of October and pretty much never ends, until, of course- finals begin. And let’s not forget the three papers that are due in consecutive weeks, planned perfectly so that they fall on the exact same date as our most important midterm. 

Amidst these constant assignments and grueling study sessions, we have to make time for food somewhere. When stress levels are high and there never seems to be enough time, we often tend to neglect our health, and our eating habits begin to slip. But this is when it is even more important to eat well and take care of ourselves.

Here are some helpful tips for easy and quick things you can do to keep yourself well nourished during stressful times:

 

1. Cooking ahead:

All the blog posts for recipes I’ve found through Pinterest have always suggested cooking your meals on a Sunday and just reheating through the week. I had never really considered this before living on my own, but have found that it can be super helpful! Making food in big quantities on a Sunday is a true life-saver. After a long day of classes and studying, the last thing you want to think about is having to decide what to eat, and then having to cook for an hour. One of my favorites is turmeric roasted sweet potatoes with greenbeans. The sweet potatoes are super filling and have tons of health benefits, such as anti-inflammatory properties, as well as antioxidants!

                                                                                         Turmeric roasted sweet potatoes and green beans

 

2. Big Salads:

Eating healthy in college is probably one of the hardest things to do. Making sure you get in your vegetables is super important, especially when stress levels are high. Because added stress can weaken your immune system, it is important to counteract this by eating the right foods. What I like to do is make a big salad at the beginning of the week, and then I have my vegetables every night, and don’t have to do any prep work. Another thing you can do is chop up your veggies on a Sunday, and then throw them together the night of, which is super easy.

I have also found that knowing you have food in the fridge that is already prepared can help you avoid making bad food choices. I have to walk past not one, not two, but three pizza places to get to my building on my way home. And of course, they’re all right beside each other. I walk past Pizza Nova, but then Dominoes is right across the street! If I somehow manage to resist both of those, I still have to make it past the Pizza Pizza! 

When your body is craving comfort food like pizza, saying no is even harder, but remembering that you have food waiting in your fridge helps momentarily suppress the cravings.

                                                                               Salad with carrots, chickpeas, red pepper, and feta cheese

3. Breakfast:

Many students often skip breakfast, either because they’re not hungry that early in the morning, they don’t have time, or they simply “just forget.” To help the less breakfast-inclined, here are some easy fixes:

  • Quick oats: Oatmeal is a perfect breakfast, especially because of how quickly it cooks. Quick oats take about 3-5 minutes on the stovetop, and 2 minutes in the microwave. To add more flavor, you can stir in milk, which can make them a bit more creamy. Top them with fresh fruit, like bananas, blueberries or strawberries!
  • Smoothies: Another quick breakfast is a smoothie! They are perfect because you can add whatever you have on hand. I also like to add spinach to mine, and the sweetness of the fruit masks any 'vegetable' flavors. This is a great way to sneak in some veggies, and spinach is full of antioxidants and other important vitamins, which is an added bonus! And because peanut butter is my one true love, I usually add a heaping spoonful (or three) to mine for extra protein.

                                                                                             Oatmeal with fresh bananas and strawberries

4. Dinners to lunches:

Because I am living off-campus this year, I didn’t get a meal plan, so having to plan for every meal was really intimidating at first. I really struggled with what to bring for lunch, and usually just skipped it because I didn’t know what to make. I found that making enough food for a few meals is really useful, because you can have dinner for one night, and then put whatever’s left in a Tupperware, and take it for lunch the next day!

This will also save you money, and you will be better equipped to resist the poutine trucks that call longingly after a three-hour lecture. One of my favorite 'dinner-to-lunches' is my take on tabouli salad- I just mix quinoa with cherry tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese and chickpeas, and add a simple dressing for a quick and easy meal!

                                                                                                                  Tabouli and salad

 

5. Snacks:

The whole "three meals a day" concept doesn’t really satisfy my hunger, so I often find myself wanting more food at inconvenient times. If you feel the same way, then finding good snacks is extremely important. Some easy snacks I like to have on hand are guacamole and hummus. Baby carrots are perfect for dipping! Granola bars are also nice to have, especially during long lectures-the little chocolate chunks help satisfy those sweet cravings without you having to sell your soul to a giant chocolate bar.

Eating healthy is extremely important regardless of the time of year, but maintaining these healthy habits during times of increased stress is especially important to help fight off illnesses. The last thing you need is to come down with something the day of a midterm!

Hopefully, these tips will help you feel fuller and more fueled to take on midterm season and come out the other side!

 

References:

http://www.pcrm.org/health/health-topics/how-to-eat-right-to-reduce-stress

http://foodfacts.mercola.com/spinach.html

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=64