There’s a reason why the student stores suddenly get busier during finals week, the trashcans in the libraries get even more stuffed and students bring rice cookers and ramen pots to the libraries — we simply don’t have the time to cook up a decent meal at home, let alone shop for groceries and think of healthy recipes to try out. Hunger is the last thing I would willingly sacrifice in order to get that “A” (third year in, and I’m pretty much used to sacrificing my sleep by now).
Eventually fast food and junk food become our main courses and sugar-loaded energy drinks become our fuel. So how do you study well without compromising your hunger, health and sanity? You choose the right snacks and you plan for the upcoming storm.
According to research from websites such as WebMD.com and news.health.com, eating healthier foods can help you concentrate, and when you lack food, you tend to be more distracted. While we all know that skipping breakfast is bad for you, in my case, there’s too little time in the morning to prepare for the lengthy day ahead of me and breakfast tends to slip my mind.
In that case, I’ll bring up my hard-boiled egg tip recycled from an article last year, where you hard-boil a dozen or however many eggs you’d like during the weekend, and store the peeled eggs in your fridge for when you need a quick breakfast-on-the-go. Another fridge-related breakfast is overnight oats. The night before, simply layer uncooked oats, milk of your choice (almond, regular dairy milk, soy milk) and fruits in a jar parfait-style or mix them altogether, and let it sit in the fridge overnight so by morning, you’ll have a portable healthy oatmeal breakfast!
As for lunch and dinner, if I’m on a tight schedule, I like to meal-prep since I just have to whip up more servings and save them for later when I need them. Hopefully you have enough tupperware for this, but you can always save microwavable to-go boxes to prepare too. Cook maybe double of what you normally eat for rice, and the same goes for your choice of protein.
Studies show that salmon, spinach, eggs and anything with whole grains are ideal for brainpower, so you can easily bake a couple salmon fillets, scramble some eggs and steam some spinach with garlic to make a healthy and reheatable meal. You can also prepare a few sandwiches in the fridge for a quick lunch too. Just be sure to use whole wheat and add an egg or an avocado in there for some brain power! Even a simple peanut butter sandwich will do.
If your days tend to begin early in the morning and end late at night, three meals just aren’t enough and it may begin to feel like torture by the time 3 p.m. hits. For snacking, it’s recommended that you have fruits, nuts or even chocolate and water or a small dose of caffeine when needed.
I recommend packing small tubs of fruit or bringing some Cuties with you — the mandarin oranges, not actual cuties, sorry — or my personal favorites, a bar of sea salt dark chocolate from Ghirardelli and the two-for-99-cents honey-roasted peanut packs from Scotty’s. The extra caffeine in the dark chocolate will help you stay up and I’ve discovered that just the act of munching on something can keep you awake.
And when all else fails, a granola bar or a banana can save the day.
If you’re going to be compromising sleep for study time, at least be sure to eat healthy in a way that will boost your performance and last longer than your McDonald’s meal. It’s no surprise that fatty and greasy foods can make you feel groggy and sluggish and therefore less motivated to study, so there’s no need to punish yourself even more. A little planning can go a long way when it comes to food, and your body will thank you!
Dish Name: Banana Berry Overnight Oats
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours, or overnight
Servings: 1 jar
- 1/2 cup of rolled oats
- 1 cup of almond milk
- 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon of almonds
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1/2 handful of blueberries
- 1/2 banana, sliced
Begin by thinly slicing the bananas and washing the blueberries, then placing them in a bowl in the fridge. In a mason jar of your size, pour in the oats, milk, almonds, cinnamon and chia seeds, and stir until mixed. Cover the jar with a lid or plastic food wrap, and let sit in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, uncover your jar, add the remaining ingredients, a drizzle of honey and more milk if you like, and enjoy!
*The recipe is interchangeable with whatever you like; feel free to switch the milk for another kind or yogurt, and use any other fruits or seasonings like sugar or vanilla extract.