With the final push of midterms before Thanksgiving break and the impending final shortly thereafter, you’re going to want to keep your strength up and stay healthy so you can focus on your academics and not have to worry about crashing during a study session. On Thursday afternoon, students from UConn’s Coordinated Program Dietetics presented at the Women’s Center with helpful information about how certain foods affect your body and what foods you should try incorporating into your diet so you can stay healthy during finals week. They also provided healthy recipes and tips for stress management.
“Three in four students report being stressed,” Kate Walder, a fifth-semester student in the Dietetics Coordinated program, said.
Walder, along with Alexa Horkachuck, another fifth-semester student in the program, were the two presenters for the event. “Unfortunately, it’s just going to get heightened during finals week, and we also know that it’s not really going to stop at college. Stress in our life will continue, so it’s good to know how to manage it now and going forward.”
The presentation discussed how the food you eat affects your brain, especially regarding the correlation between nutrition and academic success.
“How you eat can really improve your academics,” Walder said. “Some studies we looked at [showed that] you can perform better if you eat a healthy diet, meaning low in saturated fat, low in processed foods, high in fiber … eating three meals a day and having a high fruit and vegetable intake.”
Walder and Horkachuck talked about the science behind food nutrition, like why we should include Omega-3s, Omega-6s, antioxidants and carbohydrates in our diets.
“Omega-3s are in a lot of fish, like salmon,” Horkachuck said. “It’s easier to get Omega-6s because they’re in a lot more foods, oil. It’s good to have a balance between the two. It’s important for carbs to be eaten because that’s your brain’s primary source of energy.”
They also talked about the importance of eating all three meals, especially breakfast.
“We know rushing around, it’s easier to just skip breakfast, but it’s been found to improve memory and retention,” they said.
One of the most helpful portions of the presentation was when Walder and Horkachuck talked about how to navigate the dining hall. They also mentioned specialties certain dining halls have, like the abundance of fresh, locally sourced vegetables and fruits at Whitney and the grain bar and smoothie bar at Putnam.
“Definitely go to the salad bar, but pick vegetables that you actually like eating,” they said.
They talked about how maybe instead of having soda or juice, choose to drink the fruit-infused water the dining halls have.
“We know that there’s a lot of desserts like cookies you can grab to go, but instead, choose to grab a fruit to go for sustainable energy.”
For students that live off-campus or for snacks around the dorm, Walder and Horkachuck shared some tips and recipes for easy yet nutritious preparation. They had recipes for overnight oats, burrito bowls and energy bites, the latter of which they had brought in samples of.
“Meal prepping is a great way to make sure you’re getting the right nutrients, even when you’re in a rush,” Horkachuck said. The pair talked about including whole grains over processed grains, as well as pairing carbohydrates with protein when making snacks, like carrots and hummus. Some of their meal prepping tips included marinating and cooking a meal or protein for the week, chopping up vegetables in advance and preparing smoothies in freezer bags.
Amy Dunham, the nutrition coordinator from the Nutrition and Physical Activity Services provided by Student Health and Wellness, was available at the event to talk to students. She mentioned how any undergraduate student is eligible for free one-on-one nutrition counseling with any of the registered dietitians on campus.
“I also want to remind you all, there really aren’t any bad foods,” Dunham said. “We highlighted some wonderful foods, but they’re not the only foods we can have. We should be mindful of incorporating what we learned today, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t adhere to these practices completely.”
Students learned some helpful tips at the event that they’re going to remember going forward.
“I definitely think it was interesting, the correlation that food has with academic performance, I definitely didn’t put that together before,” Daniella Angulo, a fifth-semester human rights and English double major said. “I guess I’m going to be more mindful with my food choices from now on because I want to do well in school, I want to get enough sleep and have enough energy.”
Hollie Lao is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.