Healthy eating habits have positive effects for finals

Pulling that third all-nighter and loading up on cups of coffee may not be helping students as much as they think as everyone is beginning to buckle down for final exams.

Coffee may provide a temporary feeling of being alert, but ultimately it only results in dehydration and headaches, Foods and Nutrition Professor Najat Yahia said.

"(Students) have to reduce their caffeine, like coffee or soft drinks," she said. "What will happen is having x amount of caffeine in their body acts as a stimulant, at the same time dehydrating, which causes headaches. Drink water to stay hydrated."

Jamie Burke, assistant food service director at the RFoC, said that although there will not be many changes to the daily menu during finals, Campus Dining works to ensure that there are always healthy options available for students.

"We always have our chefs on staff that students can ask questions to," Burke said. "We try to give healthy options to create on your own. There's so many things you can do with our menu that you can make healthy. That's something we can do every day."

Although there may not be daily menu changes, Campus Dining Marketing Manager Nikki Smith said the residential restaurants will still be hosting their regular Breakfast at Night special event at the beginning of finals week.

"For those students who pulled an all-nighter studying and missed breakfast, here’s their chance to come in and enjoy breakfast at night while regrouping and reenergizing," Smith said.

Cutting down on junk food and sugar was an important step to being healthier, Yahia said.

"Usually (students) stay up at night, and their bodies will crave for something like pizza or cookies. Those give a boost for short time, but they gives headaches later," she said. "Students can have them later, during Christmas. But during exams, focus on whole wheats, whole grains. Focus on getting

rid of junk food and caffeine at this time."

However, Yahia said that just because students should be keeping their health in mind does not necessarily mean they must forgo sweets entirely.

"Dark chocolate has been reported to increase cognitive function," she said. "...Darker chocolate, even though it contains caffeine, it's only avery small percent. An ounce of chocolate every day gives a boost of cognitive function and doesn't reduce blood sugar."

Burke said it was important to be conscious of not only what you're eating, but also how much.

"With diet changes, we notice trends that students eat a little heavier (around exam time)," she said. "We just want to remind students to eat healthy and eat light, and keep in mind that school comes first."

Yahia said that in the end, doing well on finals could come down to your eating habits.

"If you want to do well on finals, you have to get at least seven hours of sleep, get fruits and vegetables, and reduce caffeine and alcohol," she said.



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