It's the most stressful time of the year—piles of homework, a to-do list longer than the day, plus the pressures of being a grown-up. How ever do we manage? For a lot of us (myself included), the answer is snacks, snacks, and more snacks. We stay up late, work hard all day, and then try to make up for it with lots and lots of food. Stress-eating feels great in the moment, but it can add up quickly. Below are some of my tried-and-true tips for keeping your inner snackaholic in check.

1. Swap it out for a drink

lemon, water, lemonade
Caroline Liu

Drinking water is a great way to reduce stress-eating. It'll fill your stomach, hydrate your body, and give you something to sip on while you work or study. If plain water isn't your style, you could grab an iced tea or infuse your water with fruit and herbs. Try to steer clear of sodas; they pack a lot of empty calories and excess sugar

2. Keep your hands busy

Sarah George

When you study, you often end up eating so much because you're bored or your hands are restless. Kick this habit by playing with some silly putty or squeezing a stress ball. Having something else to do with your hands helps relieve some stress and keep your hands out of the chip bag.

3. Try gum instead

Rachel Weitzman

If you're the type of person who just needs to chew on something while they work, gum might be a good solution for you. It's a cheap and low-calorie alternative to munching on Goldfish or gummy bears, and you can release some of your stressful energy. Plus, gum has been shown to increase focus, especially for tasks that require long periods of concentration.

4. Hit the gym!

coffee, beer, tea, espresso, Weights, gym, Lifting, Health
Carolyne Su

Feeling tired? Instead of taking a trip to the fridge for some energy, go for a quick run or spend some time at the gym. It might sound a bit backwards, but exercise can actually increase your energy levels significantly. Physical activity increases the amount of feel-good hormones, or endorphins, in your brain. That's why you get that just-woke-up-from-a-good-nap feeling after a workout. Next time you need a quick boost, get active and save the snacks for another day

5. Get some ZZZs

cake, pillow, bed, blanket, sleep, sleeping, nap, napping, girl in bed
Jocelyn Hsu

Stress and lack of sleep are besties. You hardly ever find one without the other. This power couple can do some serious damage to your eating habits if you constantly feel drained of energy. Next time you notice yourself dragging and daydreaming about all the food you could be eating, give your mind a rest and take a power nap. The most effective naps are about 20 minutes long; any longer and you could wake up feeling worse than when you went to sleep. Indulging in a good nap can be a great pick-me-up when your energy levels are a little too low and your stress levels are a little too high

6. Reach for the good stuff

nut, meat, almond, walnut, apricot pits
Christin Urso

If the temptation to snack is absolutely irresistible, make sure you're noshing on good nutrients. Look for snacks with high protein and low added sugar to fill you up and keep your energy going. A handful of nuts, edamame, trail mix, or a low-sugar yogurt are fantastic options for a stressed-out snacker. Not only will you satisfy your cravings, but you'll get some healthy energy to help you through your day

7. Portions, portions, portions

butter, kettle, sweet, kettle corn, salt, cereal, corn, popcorn, snacking
Julia Gilman

No matter what you decide to snack on, portion control is the key to reigning in stress-eating. Sometimes when you're stressed and focused on other things, eating becomes an unconscious activity and you end up consuming way more than you intended to. Self-control is hard, but one easy strategy to practice is eating out of something that isn't the original container.  If you portion your food at the beginning, you'll stop when you reach the bottom of the bowl instead of the bottom of the bag. Problem solved!

If you're worried about stress eating for your upcoming midterms, make sure to check out this helpful article!: