Eat regularly throughout the day - Do you miss lunch, squeeze in a quick snack between classes and then find yourself parked in front of your refrigerator at 10pm? Your body would prefer to get energy when it needs it, which is all day, rather than fill up at the end of the day. Bring food with you! Try to eat every 4 hours or so, and have a light snack for late night studying.
Don't keep "junk food" around. Chips, dips and candy don't just "appear" magically in your food cupboard. One reason you snack on junk is because you made the choice to buy it and bring it home! Change your environment, change what you eat.
Choose smart snacks. If you're hungry, eat. But, especially if it's late at night, you'll quickly add calories if you're choosing candy, ice cream, wings, chicken finger subs, etc. Keep plenty of healthier, lower calorie foods around for when you're a little hungry (fruit, cereal, whole grain crackers, low fat cheese, yogurt, soup, etc.)
Get physical during study breaks - Every hour (at least) stand up. Even better, take a short walk. This engages your metabolism, increases oxygen to your brain, gets your blood flowing again, and helps you refocus on studying. Don't eat food or drink "energy drinks" to stay awake.
Take snack breaks rather than eat continuously. Everyone is different, but for grazers, it's easy to eat a lot more calories than you're aware of because you're focusing more on the book or the screen rather than sensing if you're still hungry or tasting the food. Eating mindfully without distraction may make you feel more satisfied.
Portion snacks and meals - If you grab from the bag, it may be empty before you realize it. Serve snacks in a bowl or on a plate and put them away. A very large meal, more than 400 or 500 calories, will likely interfere with your studying by pulling blood to your stomach rather than your brain.
Protein foods may help you stay alert. Protein containing foods may help you feel more alert and motivated. Examples: lean meat, beans, lentils, low fat dairy, soy foods, high-protein snack bars, nuts (~2-4 Tbs). Excess carbohydrates may help us relax and feel sleepy.
Include fluid, and be aware of the calories. Stay hydrated AND get a movement break by visiting the restroom. Sometimes we reach for food when we're thirsty. If you're dehydrated, you may find yourself craving grapes or other watery foods. Make sure you get a minimum of 2 quarts of water a day, and more if you're active or in hot weather. Avoid excess caffeine (>2 cups) as it may affect the quality of your sleep (and prolong stress).
Avoid eating right before bedtime. Try to have your last snack at least 2 hours before going to bed to avoid gastric reflux and feeling tired in the morning (your body worked all night digesting). Usually our choices are sloppier when we're tired. The best strategy for studying is to eat small amounts every few hours.
Hot foods, hot liquids - Hot foods tend to make us feel more satisfied, and steaming hot foods are hard to eat quickly. Try bringing instant soup or instant oatmeal with you. Know where the microwaves are on campus to heat up a quick snack or meal. Choose soups that are lower in sodium such as Dr. McDougall's line of instant lower sodium soups.
Limit sedentary time. Any form of exercise while you watch TV can help add activity to your day when you're short on time, but may also keep you from snacking, as the TV easily lures us to eat with constant food commercials. There's mounting evidence that this "sit time" is a major contributor to the obesity epidemic (Harvard School of Public Health).
Wellness Education Services |
114 Student Union |
University at Buffalo |
Buffalo, NY 14260-2100 |
Tel: (716) 645-2837 |
Fax: (716) 645-6234 |
Contact: Sherri Darrow |