Upgrading the College Diet: Study Snacks

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Finals are fast approaching on college campuses.  It’s the time of the semester when students put themselves on “lockdown” to study for comprehensive exams, write papers, or finally tackle that half-page reading list. 

Since I’ve been in college, I’ve noticed that most students adopt terrible lifestyle habits before and during finals.  They don’t sleep, skip showers, and wear the same clothes (usually pajamas) several days in a row.  But the most notorious bad habit I’ve noticed is horrifically unhealthy snacking.  I’ve seen students walk into the library with a grocery sack of Cheetos, Twizzlers, Oreos, beef jerky and Red Bulls and devour the whole spread.  I love junk food just as much as the next person, but that’s just gross.

The brain, like the rest of the body, needs energy to function.  Junk foods like candy and chips do provide this energy in the form of carbohydrates; however, these carbohydrates (simple carbohydrates) are rapidly absorbed by the body, so they only provide a “jolt” of energy that will quickly fade away.  It’s much better to eat foods that are rich in slow-absorbing carbohydrates (complex carbohydrates) that provide a steady stream of energy/brain fuel. 

Complex carbohydrates tend to be found in healthy foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.  Some good study snacks with complex carbohydrates are:

·         Apple slices with peanut butter

·         Unsweetened whole-grain cereal (like Cheerios)

·         Grapes

·         Whole-wheat pretzels

My favorite study snack is popcorn.  I forgo the bagged variety in favor of popping the kernels on the stove (I use non-stick cooking spray).  Afterwards, I sprinkle the popcorn with cinnamon or paprika to make it more flavorful.  It’s a healthy snack that makes me feel satisfied, and its crunch helps me stay alert!

More suggested healthy snacks can be found here.

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