Effective snacking during finals week

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It is that time of the year. Finals are quickly making their way here, and students do not want to be unprepared for them. One way to be prepared is to have the best snacks prepared for finals week fueling.

Tandalayo Kidd, associate professor in human nutrition, said there are different snacks students may find beneficial during finals week.

“If you like crunchy foods, (you’ll probably enjoy) getting baby carrots, freezing some grapes, even getting fresh
veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, green, orange, and yellow bell peppers,
sliced cucumbers, grape tomatoes,” Kidd said. “Those are food items that are easily
transportable. You can put them in a bowl,
and you can just kind of dish out whatever amount you want to eat.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends people ages 19-30 years old to eat a minimum of 2 cups of fruits and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables. Fruits and vegetables have many benefits, especially during high stress times like finals week. According to Live Strong, fruits and vegetables contain between 74-96 percent water, which helps students and others stay hydrated.

“You
can also make you some trail mix, made of nuts, of course, if you are not
allergic to nuts, (and) dried fruits,” Kidd said. “If you want some chocolate, dark chocolate is
better than milk chocolate because of the phytochemicals in dark chocolate. You
can use some whole grain cereals to put in there like rolled oats or Cheerios, or even use in like wheat Chex. If you are going to use some grain
products, you should use whole grain.”

Phytochemicals and whole grains are the key words to proper snack nutrition, Kidd said. According to the American Cancer Society, “phytochemicals” mainly describes compounds naturally occurring in plants that may affect human health. Dark chocolate contains a subgroup of phytochemicals known as flavonoids that act as antioxidants in the human body.

The American Association of Cereal Chemists defines whole grains as “consisting of the intact, ground, cracked, or flaked caryopsis (fruit or kernel) of the
grain whose principal components, the starchy endosperm, germ, and bran,
are present in the same relative proportions as they exist in the
intact grain.”

Some
people like granola bars,” Kidd said. “We cannot get away from that. That’s fine, but
just kind of read the ingredient list. Sugar should not be the first
ingredient listed.

Bars or other foods that have added sugars, sugars that are not naturally occurring in foods, are a concern nowadays because they can cause a sugar crash or sudden fatigue. Kidd said they can also push people into mindless eating.

“You
feel sluggish sometimes, and when that happens, you feel the desire to eat a few
more cookies, because you are trying to maintain the alertness,” Kidd said.

Kidd said that though she recommends whole grain and protein bars, she is aware that students will indulge on energy drinks as an alternative to snacking.

“People drinking energy drinks need to be careful because (…) they probably have some stimulating things like
caffeine,” Kidd said. “Also, they are sugar sweetened. Those are calories you really don’t need, because you are not burning them.”

Oscar Ramos is a graduate student in grain science. Please send all comments to edge@kstatecollegian.com.

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