By Anna Richardson
Eating habits tend to go out the window during exam time. You may go one of two ways: You forget about eating altogether, or you start cramming everything you see into your face. Stress can really mess up your appetite and hunger, as well as turning you into a stress eater.
Stress is healthy in moderate amounts, but chronic stress can become a big problem. Acute stressors will initially reduce your appetite, but with prolonged stress, you may feel starved all day. Putting your body in overtime for an extended period of time puts you at risk for various diseases, lower your immune function, and can mess up your metabolism.
During periods of stress, like exam time, students tend to increase their intake of convenience foods, have less time for exercise, and turn to ‘comfort eating’, which is a recipe for weight gain and poor health. Cortisol is one of the most notable stress hormones that has been linked to weight gain, especially in the abdomen. It may also increase food cravings and slow your metabolism, as your body goes into survival mode.
Beat the stress!
- Try to keep your regular eating schedule if possible – try not to miss a meal, especially breakfast!
- Avoid the all-nighters when you can. Putting your body into overtime will only stress you out more.
- Need to munch while you study? Keep things like carrots, celery, or apple slices nearby to keep you satisfied in between meals.
- Take lots of breaks from studying. Go for a walk, hit the gym, see a friend. Even a little bit of a break can ease your stress and help you study more effectively. Exercise is a natural stress-buster!
- Avoid refined sugars to keep your blood sugar balanced.
- Recognize when you’re getting too stressed and know what can help you get back on track.
- Don’t let your eating habits add to your stress level. The last thing you need is another thing to worry about. Do what you can – but we’re all human, and exams suck.
Check out Melissa’s recipes this week for more quick and healthy exam snack ideas!