Brain Food? Good Nutrition Slides During Finals



Editor’s Note: This article is part a collection of articles relating to student life during finals week that appear in the Dec. 2 print issue. 

When students are studying for finals, the fact that good nutrition can slide to the bottom of the list of priorities is a no-brainer.

Between pulling all-nighters and binge drinking coffee, Manhattan College students sometimes eat whatever they can get their hands on.  While this food can be harmful for students’ bodies, the college’s resident nutritionist said it can actually be just as harmful for their brains.

“Avoid foods that will be heavy in your stomach, such as fried or greasy foods or desserts that are high in sugar. These foods take the focus off of studying and transfer it to how you are feeling,” Alexa McDonald, RD, CDN and registered dietitian for Gourmet Dining Services, said.

Even though eating healthy sounds easy, it can be more difficult than it sounds especially when students mostly rely on others to provide nutritious foods for them.

Junior Daniel Perez thinks that Locke’s provides a small section of truly nutritious foods, but that the venue itself doesn’t offer a variety of options for him to be able to choose whether or not to eat well.

“The healthy food they offer is not good, that’s the truth,” Perez said.

McDonald said that it is not the lack of healthy food options, but the lack of students willing to branch out from what they are familiar with. She recommends eating lean proteins such as grilled chicken and deli meat, filling grains like oatmeal and whole-grain cereals, and vegetables – all of which are offered at the dining hall.

But there is nothing like the stress of finals week to have students scrambling for all of the bad foods at all hours of day and night.

“The only way to calm my nerves is eating. During finals I eat outside of school a lot because I end up very late studying. The cafeteria should be open after hours during finals week,” Perez said.

While eating habits inevitably change during a week of uncertain scheduling, McDonald advises to keep track of a few vital dietary routines. She said that staying hydrated, always eating breakfast, getting sleep and exercising are important habits to keep during finals.

Her biggest tip, however, is to “eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. Don’t skip meals, meals and small snacks throughout the day can help keep your blood sugar levels steady and fuel mentally and physically during finals,” she said.

“The gym is very effective because it is so new that people are very excited about it. The nutritionist is very good also, but should be more known by the students,” junior Brian Vazquez said.

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