Eat your way through an essay crisis: foods for energy

By Ali
Category: Practical | Date: Thu 30 Oct, 2008

When faced with an essay crisis – whether the “My to-do list is longer than my arm” sort or the “Crap, it’s due tomorrow at eight am sort”, it’s important to keep your energy up.

I should warn you now, that as the writer of The Office Diet and a staff-blogger for Diet Blog, I’m not going to be advising stuffing yourself with mars bars and downing mug after mug of black coffee.

These are my tips, and should not be taken as expert nutritional advice. They work for me…

Slow-release carbs and protein

By “slow-release” carbs, I mean ones which give you a sustained energy boost. Bread, pasta, potatoes, rice and other “stodgy” foods are good here. Cakes, pastries and biscuits – less so. The sugar high is followed by an inevitable sugar dip, which won’t have your brain operating on the full power needed to get your work done.

Protein is important for keeping you full. You don’t need loads, but have some lean ham or chicken, or some tofu, quorn or cheese if you’re veggie.

And it’s a good idea to make yourself a proper meal (like pasta with a vegetable and bacon sauce, or a baked potato with beans and salad) rather than just grabbing snacks as you start to get peckish.

Limited caffeine

Most of us find that caffeine helps in moments of tiredness and apathy, and current medical advice is that a moderate quantity of tea or coffee each day is actually good for you. Don’t overdo it, though; too much caffeine and you’ll be too wired and jittery to work.

If you are trying to cut down your caffeine intake, drink tea rather than coffee, and don’t make it too strong – use one tea bag for two mugs of tea. (Good for your health and saves you money.) If you drink tea and coffee for the taste, try decaf.

Watch the sugar

Sugar seems to have taken over from fat in nutritional circles as Public Enemy Number One, and though I have a sweet tooth, I can sadly see why a lot of sugar isn’t such a great thing. Sure, you get that energy surge shortly after eating a mars bar or slab of chocolate fudge cake – but it’s quickly followed by a sugar crash, when all you want to do is lie down and groan.

If you need something sweet to see you through your essay, try dark chocolate (I find it less “morish” than milk chocolate, as the flavour’s less intense), or toast/crumpets/bagels with jam.

Plenty of water

Make sure you stay hydrated while you’re studying or racing through that essay.Although tea and coffee technically count towards your six glasses of water per day, I find that they leave me feeling thirstier, so I’m convinced water is better! If you hate plain water, drink squash.

If you don’t drink enough water, your concentration levels will plunge, and you may develop a nagging headache – the last thing you want when you’re trying to get all your work done.

Over to you

Got a favourite essay-crisis snack? (Preferably a not-too-unhealthy one!) Share it with us in the comments…


2 comments:

  1. Katie

    When I’m up late studying, I eat baby carrots and/or popcorn (no butter). Usually I just want something to munch on, and these are good because they’re satisfyingly crunchy and it’s okay to eat a lot.

  2. Great ones, Katie! I love carrot sticks for munching on (Paul is mean about this and makes rabbit noises). Popcorn’s also good, though I unfortunately like mine toffee-flavoured, so I have to be a bit restrained…

    If you like the crunch factor, celery with salsa is yummy, though not so friendly to keyboards and books!

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