For some college students, midterms and finals are hellish in more ways than one. You’ve got your exams and essays to worry about, but you’ve also got worry to worry about, because you tend to demolish an entire sleeve of Oreos when you’re stressed. Here’s how to break out of the stress-binge-more-stress cycle this semester, while still satisfying those late-night cravings.
1. Swap ice cream with yogurt or nice cream
Passing by the soft-serve machine as you enter and leave the dining hall leads to some major temptation, so if you’re feeling a dessert-craving coming on, head to the yogurt station instead.
Grab a paper cup from the coffee station and fill it with yogurt and all the toppings, maybe even some cereal for a sweet crunch, and take it home with you. Be sure to laugh defiantly at the ice cream machine as you pass by it with yogurt in-hand.
If you’re not into yogurt, and are still craving a sweet treat, (and if you have access to a blender), try banana ice cream instead. It’s sweet, it’s creamy, it’s potentially vegan, and it will satisfy those cravings without causing any guilt. Follow this bomb recipe for an easy bowl of delicious nice cream.
2. Stock the fridge with healthy snacks
Everyone knows that Schrodinger’s rule applies to eating: Whatever’s in the fridge/pantry, will be eaten. If there are chips and cookies laying around your room while you’re up late working on a paper, you’re bound to finish them off. So get rid of the junk and replace it with string cheese, grapes, carrots and hummus, lightly buttered popcorn, and other healthy snacks that you can binge on guilt-free.
3. Make homemade breakfast bars
Before exam week, spend some time preparing snacks and meals for the days to come. It may seem like a chore, but you’ll be more likely to choose a healthy snack like these banana peanut butter granola bars if you put in the effort to make them.
Cooking yourself food that your body will appreciate is a labor of self-love that really goes a long way; it will give you a self-esteem boost AND energy boost at the same time. Who knew multi-tasking could be so tasty?
4. Go H.A.M. at the salad station
Sometimes hunger isn’t really hunger, but a desire to violently gnash some large volume of food between one’s teeth. Midterms stress brings out the animal in all of us sometimes.
When that hunger-less craving strikes, fill your bowl with greens rather than pasta. Seriously, fill that bowl all the way up. Get all the toppings, get seconds, get thirds. Put some sweet potatoes on there, and maybe some nuts. Chomping on fibrous greens will satisfy your food cravings and fill you up, but without the calories and guilt of a plate of cheese fries.
5. Eat a three-course meal
I know what you’re thinking: three courses can’t possibly be healthier than one. But take a good look at your dining hall behaviors when you’re really hungry or stressed or in a bad mood. Do you pack your plate with carbs and entrees and then go back for seconds? Do you forget about vegetables completely? If so, eating restaurant-style might help.
First, get a small bowl and make a nice salad. When you’re finished eating that, get a small plate and get your entree. When you finish that, ~if~ you’re still hungry, get a small bowl of yogurt with granola for dessert.
Three spaced-out courses allows your body to process your food as you’re eating it, giving it time to send satiety signals to your brain. If you slam down a full plate a food in two minutes, you may still feel hungry and end up over-eating. Slow down, get a little fancy, and your body will thank you for it.
6. Freeze fruit for snacking
Cut up bananas (and coat them in yogurt if you’re feeling fancy) and apples, separate sections of oranges and grapefruit, and chuck ’em in the freezer. The result is a sweet, refreshing dessert to munch on while studying that will give you a boost of natural energy. The bananas will have the consistency of ice cream, and the oranges/grapefruit will be like tart little popsicles. YUM.
7. Ask the rents for a midterms care package
Chances are pretty good that your mom would LOVE to curate a box full of snacks and supplies for you, and since your clearest memories from childhood are of your mom telling you to eat healthy snacks instead of junk food, you’re likely to get some trail mix in that care package.
Follow your mom’s advice for once and ask her to go on a health-food shopping spree for you. (Since that sh*t can get pretty expensive, outsourcing the task to your mom is a good call.) Once you get that box full of mom-snacks (with some homemade goodies and St. Paddy’s Day themed socks too), place it prominently in your room so that you’ll remember to grab something from it when you’re feeling hangry instead of going out for curly fries.
Midterms are stressful enough as they are, but this week can get even more stressful if you feed your body tons of junk when you get the anxiety-munchies. Your body runs best and works the hardest when you give it healthy, natural foods. So this semester, do right by your body while still satisfying your late-night cravings. You deserve to be healthy, but you also deserve a sweet treat at the end of the day!