The Crimson White

Stress-eating can be common, unnecessary during finals week

Tara Massouleh

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It’s that time of year again. The time of year when we’re worrying about a million things at once, and every day that goes by is just 24 more hours of studying time to be lost. Yes, it’s the middle of April, which means we’re probably sporting rain boots and umbrellas while walking to class and spending every spare moment with our heads down in the basement of Gorgas. April means finals and the end of the spring semester are just around the corner.

With every late night, spent either studying for finals or relishing in our final days of college freedom before many of us return home for the summer, comes another opportunity for a late-night run to Checkers or a systematic cleaning of the entire content of your quickly dwindling pantry supply of junk food. We’re talking cheese puffs, chocolate bars, Easy Mac, Little Debbie cakes and other stereotypical unhealthy food that comes to mind.

During dead week and finals week, or realistically any week that comes after spring break, eating healthy is probably one of the last things on everybody’s mind. Sure, we have summer to worry about in terms of how we look, but most of us will probably spend our days running errands as interns in offices, working at our hometown restaurants or vegging out on the couch to reruns of “Laguna Beach.” Well, at least that’s what I have planned. So in reality, there’s no sense of urgency to stay in shape or get in shape for summer, especially when the stress of school is beckoning us to clean out a pint of Ben and Jerry’s while we futilely struggle to memorize entire text books over the course of one night.

Despite the temptation to cancel out all the hard work we got in between New Year’s and spring break, it’s probably not worth it for a few blissful nights of all-you-can-eat Krispy Kremes, even if they are hot and ready. So to help us all last the homestretch without completely disregarding every healthy eating guideline we’ve ever had funneled through our brains, there are just a couple tips we can keep in mind to avoid the infamous evil known as stress-eating.

One way to avoid eating unhealthy foods, but still getting the satisfaction of eating something when we’re in for the long haul amidst a pile of books and assignment sheets, is to substitute unhealthy foods for healthy foods with the same qualities. For example, if you’re really craving something cold and sweet (yes, ice cream), you can trade out a pint of chocolate chip cookie dough for yogurt or fresh berries with whipped cream. It’s not exactly the same, but the difference in calories isn’t exactly minimal either. If you feel like you want to inhale an entire family bag of Doritos, it might be best to crack open a bag of pistachios or another nut instead. You get the same crunchiness and saltiness of a chip, but with more protein and good fat.

Another way to avoid stress-eating is to trade out the act of eating for another activity. When we eat because we’re stressed, it’s often because we want an escape or even just a distraction from what we’re doing. Instead of opening up the refrigerator door for an easy distraction, try turning on the TV or even calling one of your friends for a short chat – anything to take your mind off wanting to eat.

Ultimately, when it comes to finals week, all bets are probably off. There’s no telling how many times we’ll be tempted to relive the glory of freshman year’s unlimited meal swipes at Late Night Lakeside or how long the line at Taco Bell will be at 2 a.m., but there are a few precautions we can all take so stress-eating doesn’t get the best of us.

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Stress-eating can be common, unnecessary during finals week