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Ask a dietetics expert: Maintaining energy during midterms

Brooke Schneider Dorma '08
Brooke Schneider Dorma '08
Photo supplied

Spring break is just a week away for St. Catherine University students. But before packing their bags for warmer climes or a much-needed staycation, students need to make it through midterms.

The latest "Ask a Dietetics Expert" Q & A features Brooke Schneider Dorma '08, who offers some quick tips on eating healthy to keep up stamina during a long stretch of stressful days.

Caffeine and sugar are two things students tend to consume when trying to stay awake or alert during midterms. Is this wise, or are their other foods that can be eaten to maintain focus?

Caffeine can be beneficial in smaller amounts (1-2 cups) during study sessions to help with alertness temporarily but too much caffeine from coffee or energy drinks can cause nervousness, increase anxiety leading to increased stress and can cause rebound fatigue.

Put that Red Bull down and reach for real, wholesome foods that will give you more energy with less side effects. Choose a combination of complex carbohydrates and a little protein (whole grain crackers or fresh fruit with string cheese or almonds) to keep your energy levels up.

What’s the best food plan to maintain stamina when you are facing a long stretch of hectic days?

The best plan for stamina is to eat a consistent, balanced diet during hectic days. This means 2 things:

  • Eat every 3-4 hours throughout the day. Our brain demands a constant supply of fuel so eating 3 meals and 2-3 snacks will give you consistent energy to meet the needs of hectic days.
  • Have something from most food groups at each meal. For example, for breakfast try an English muffin with peanut butter, yogurt and a banana. Each food group provides nutrients that are essential for the body to function effectively.

Sometimes stress brings on insomnia. What's the best way to combat this through your diet?

Limit the sources that can cause insomnia and restlessness — caffeine, alcohol and large meals before bedtime. Increase physical activity during the day so your body is prepared to rest at night.

About Brooke Schneider Dorma '08

Brooke Schneider Dorma '08 is an outpatient registered dietitian at Park Nicollet Melrose Center in St. Louis Park, MN specializing in eating disorder treatment. She received her degrees in dietetics and exercise and sports science from St. Catherine University and completed a Dietetic Internship at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, IL.

Dorma is a certified specialist in sports dietetics (CSSD) and works as a consultant counseling athletes on sports nutrition and gives presentations on health and wellness. She currently resides in the Twin Cities with her husband and their golden retriever.

Other "Ask a dietetics expert" articles:

Eating healthy on a dime featuring Debra Barone Sheats ’75

Eating to shake winter's grip featuring Christine Palumbo '75

March 17, 2014 by Sharon Rolenc

See also: Alumnae/i, Healthcare, Leadership, Students