Food For Thoughtby Surmayee Tetarbe on Sep, 18 2012
By virtue of the fact that most of us are Cal students, at some point or the other we have all buried ourselves in our various dungeons on a hot date with some readings, a paper or a problem set. We whine and sigh and curse our luck as we trek our way through Main Stacks or to an abandoned classroom in Dwinelle on a Sunday night, hoping and praying that the pain of homework will eventually pass, although it never truly does.
Three hours in, and you’ve had it. Your brain has turned into mush, your eyes are getting blurry, and your hands can no longer hold on to your pen. You have hit rock bottom. And then you remember, you had the forethought to put some kind of sustenance in your bag! And there it is, that motivation you were lacking, that final push needed to help you finish your work, the greatest gift in life…. Food!
I know it’s only been about four weeks into school, but everyone needs food, let’s be real here. But what are the foods that’ll help you climb your way out of the rut, and what foods will make your brain feel like melting even more?
The key here is somewhat healthy, somewhat delicious and all energizing. I’m not suggesting you take protein shakes with you into the library (unless that’s your thing, in which case, go right ahead). But you need something filling, something that you can trick your brain into thinking is gourmet food and something that’ll comfort you into the wee hours of the night.
Trail Mix, Granola Bars, Dry Cereal – Filled with just enough fiber, grains, nuts, berries, sweetness and crunch to make your stomach smile, these foods are great for late night motivation. They’re filling enough (although I wouldn’t advise you to substitute these in instead of dinner) to keep you going. And they’re sweet enough to taste good and healthy enough so you don’t feel guilty snacking while studying.
Fruits! – They don’t say an apple a day keeps the doctor away for nothing. Something about fresh fruit just wakes the brain up, and apples really do the trick for me. Bananas, strawberries and oranges are also good alternatives. Just make sure you don’t get fruit juice all over your books and keyboard, which I can tell you from experience, is a pain in the ass to get rid of.
Water – You’d be surprised at how many people forget to drink water when they’re working, which is the one thing your body really needs to keep going. Plus nothing makes for better breaks than needing to go refill your water bottle. It’s a totally justified break from working!
What doesn’t quite work:
Junk Food – No doubt, you’ll find many an advocate for this particular group of foods, and while they taste pretty damn good at 2 in the morning, those chocolate chip cookies are only going to weigh you down. And the box of Sour Patch Kids you devoured is going to give you the nastiest sugar high — the greater the amount of candy, the harder you’re going to crash when it all wears off. So yes, you’re body is craving salty, delicious potato chips, but it’s probably not the best option when you need to get your work done. Plus, have you ever tried holding a pen in oily hands? Impossible.
Soda, Lots of Coffee and Energy Drinks – Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying “quit drinking your Red Bulls and French Roast”, go right ahead. I just wouldn’t advise you to do that at 3 in the morning when you’re already unable to focus on your readings. Soda is going to have the same effect on you as the candy, and will actually make you feel dehydrated. Coffee and energy drinks, in my humble opinion, should be kept as emergency supplies, brought out only when you’re planning on pulling a legitimate all nighter so you don’t fail your class. Otherwise, these will keep you energized for a short while, and then suddenly you’ll be drained. And that crush just sucks.
In the end, we all have had moments where all nighters, nine hour library sessions and hardcore work have been required. Honestly, drink some water, have some food (slip a little candy in at some points to keep you going too – everything is good in moderation) and just get up and walk around for a few minutes every hour or so. It’s a good break for your brain and social interaction will only do you good, I promise!
Keep it balanced, try and sleep whenever you can (naps are good, people!) and make sure you’re not killing yourself when it can totally be avoided! Happy studying!