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Comfort foods not the answer to finals week

ChristinaThis is the phrase everybody is probably dreading to hear, but finals are just around the corner. Usually around this time of year, we are so swamped with papers and exams, we tend to not care about what kind of food goes into our bodies.

I am sure many of us, especially those who are not in the dorms, end up eating whatever is easiest and cheapest to cook, such as frozen pizza and Ramen. Yes, these foods may fill you up for the time being, but as the day goes on, it will just decrease your energy and cause you to eat more.

According to The New York Times Health Guide, it is essential to get between 40 to 60 percent of total calories from complex carbohydrates. These include fruits and vegetables, whole-grain rice, bread and cereal, as well as legumes, which include beans and lentils.

I am a huge fan of white rice and probably eat it every day.  I know it is not the healthiest food because all the carbohydrates it contains  break down into sugar. Knowing this, though, I try to add other nutrients to my plate while eating.

Coming from a Middle Eastern family, a popular cuisine we enjoy is rice topped with tomato sauce, some sort of vegetable and meat (or no meat for vegetarians). Generally I try to put more sauce and vegetables instead of rice, and by doing this I can get my greens, carbs and protein all in one sitting.

This may not sound too appealing to everyone, and it can take longer to make, but there are other ways to get a full and satisfying, yet cheap meal.

Buying frozen vegetables from the grocery store can range from $2 to $3, which is inexpensive considering the benefits. For those meat lovers, adding some grilled chicken breast to it can add some protein and is also not too expensive; a bag of about four to five can range from $6 to $10. For those who don’t eat meat, I have tried grilled tofu, which tastes excellent and only costs about $2 to $3 for a block. With this, add some pasta topped with olive oil to give you that extra boost of energy.

These foods do not take long to make and are also decently priced for college students. If you are not used to cooking foods such as these and are constantly eating either boxed or frozen foods, taking the time to try new things can be worthwhile.

According to helpguide.org, it is important to start slow and make changes to your diet over time.

“Trying to make your diet healthy overnight isn’t realistic or smart. Changing everything at once usually leads to cheating or giving up on your new eating plan. Make small steps, like adding a salad (full of different color vegetables) to your diet once a day or switching from butter to olive oil when cooking. As your small changes become habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices to your diet,” the website stated.

It’s also important to remember to stay hydrated. Coffee usually ends up being our best friend around those two weeks, but caffeine ends up making us jittery and anxious when we really don’t need to be. You can have a cup or two, but be sure to mostly drink water, juice or milk to keep you focused and energized throughout the day.

With this advice, try going out to the store sometime this week and buying foods that contain the right amount of nutrients, protein and carbs to help you when finals do actually come around. It will be hard to get into this habit that week or the last two weeks because we will all be so focused on our schoolwork, but starting now can get us into a routine of eating right and healthy, which will help us rock finals.

Christina Danno is a senior English studies and philosophy major as well as a copy editor and columnist for The Vidette. Questions or comments can be sent to:

cmdanno@ilstu.edu.

 

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