Channeling Ina: Healthy eating during finals weeks (without losing your mind)

Choosing nutritious (and delicious) foods to eat can be hard enough for college students during our regular semester schedules. Add finals into the mix, and soon enough we’re all diving headfirst into a family-sized bag of M&Ms. The hard thing is, it is so important to make nutritious food choices for maximum academic performance and to keep up our energy levels — especially when it becomes time to buckle down and hit the books.

I really think that the best way to ace your finals and avoid becoming a zombie in the process is to make the effort to choose better and healthier foods that will keep your energy up and your brain sharp. Try one — or all — of these tips, and eat your way towards that 4.0.

Ditch the sugar, and go for whole milk. Sugar will just send your blood sugar on a roller-coaster ride; instead swap the skim milk and vanilla syrup in your coffee for plain old whole milk. Whole milk has plenty of protein and fat to keep you satiated and focused, and the fat in the milk enhances the flavor of the coffee so much so that you won’t even miss the sugar.

Bring fruits and vegetables to the library to snack on throughout the day. I don’t think anyone should have to give up library snacking — sometimes it’s the only thing to look forward to in Tisch. Still, make those snacks count! Don’t just mindlessly down a Snickers bar; instead, snack on a handful of baby carrots or an apple. You’ll still have something to keep you full and satisfied, but you’ll also be providing your body with essential nutrients and slow-release carbohydrates. Say goodbye to your 3 p.m. energy crash and chocolate cravings.

Embrace healthy fats. In case you missed it, healthy fats are the Beyoncé of nutrition. Lots of research has shown that healthy fats increase nutrient absorption, keep energy levels stable and increase satiety. Rather than grabbing low-fat everything in the dining halls, keep healthy fats at the forefront of your meals. Easy ways to do this include adding a dollop of peanut butter on top of your morning oatmeal or yogurt, dressing your salad with olive oil and vinegar, sprinkling chopped walnuts into your salads or morning cereal bowl, and embracing whole eggs rather than egg whites.

Fill up on complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are slowly metabolized by your body so that your energy levels stay steady for 4-6 hours — just the right amount of time to carve out some major review in Tisch. Luckily, eating complex carbohydrates is easier than you might think. Throw a roasted sweet potato onto your plate at lunch, choose Grape-Nuts over rice Chex at breakfast, grab the whole-wheat pasta instead of white pasta and fill up on whole-grains like quinoa and brown rice. Complex carbohydrates give you major studying stamina and provide your body with all kinds of essential B vitamins, nutrients like iron and potassium and plenty of insoluble fiber.