Bits and Bites: Serve yourself – for intense studying

Friday, April 21, 2023 Bits and Bites: Serve yourself – for intense studying

Student studying in a library with books and a laptop on the table in front of them

written by Ellyn McCarter, Dining Services registered dietitian and nutrition manager.

Serve Yourself is a program through Dining Services to teach you how to use food to your advantage. Nutrition is a tool to help you achieve a variety of goals. For example, you can utilize food to give you the energy to carry you through long study sessions, achieve your fitness goals, or prevent chronic disease. Serve Yourself provides general nutrition advice on a variety of topics. Every month we explore different ways to utilize nutrition to initiate a healthful dietary pattern. This month we will discuss how to fuel your study session successfully.

As the end of the school year approaches, due dates, exams, and the stress accompanying them start piling up. With more frequent and high-stake study sessions on the horizon, here are some ways to help you stay focused and alert to maximize your studying time.

The key to a fulfilling snack is choosing foods that combine complex carbohydrates with proteins and healthy fats. Our body digests complex carbohydrates slowly, allowing a gradual release of energy and keeping us fuller for longer. Complex carbohydrates are found in foods like beans, whole grains, and vegetables. Combining these with protein and fat sources will create a satisfying, long-lasting energy source.

Examples of foods you may enjoy include:
Quaker instant oatmeal and fruit. Oatmeal contains complex carbohydrates. Top your oatmeal with fruit to add additional carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.
Hummus with pretzels. Chickpeas are a great source of fiber. Paired with tahini (sesame seed paste) and olive oil, you are looking at an excellent snack that will keep you fuller longer.
Apple and peanut butter. Apples are a great source of complex carbohydrates. Pair this with a source of protein and healthy fats like nut butter for a perfect pairing for lasting energy.

Remember to stay hydrated to stay focused on the task at hand. According to the National Academy of Medicine, the daily adequate intake of fluids is 13 cups for men and 9 cups for women. Limit your caffeine intake to less than 400 milligrams per day to avoid adverse side effects if choosing fluids that contain caffeine. Over 400 milligrams daily may lead to insomnia, irritability, headaches, and more.

Try not to skip meals. Schedules can get a little out of control during this time of year, but help your metabolism stay on track by not skipping meals.

Take an active study break. A walk around campus or a trip to the Campus Recreation Center can help keep your body active while you’re spending more time studying. These exercises can help you maintain your sleep schedule and benefit your mental health during these stressful weeks.

If you ever feel like the stress is too overwhelming, there are resources around campus like CAPS. Take advantage of the wellness events happening around campus. Check the student events calendar for events that sound fun.

Utilizing these tips will help you meet your studying goals.

Healthful eating is about balance. The focus should be on broad eating habits without focusing on specific foods. If you have questions about healthful eating habits through Dining Services, contact Ellyn McCarter, registered dietitian, at

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