Mount St. Joseph University

Students Weigh in on Comfort Foods and Stress

Dateline: student newspaper

By: Jennifer Smith

File Under: food, health

Pretzels. Pizza. Chocolate. Ice cream. From salty snacks to sweet treats, comfort foods seem to be a diet staple of college students, especially toward the end of a stressful semester.

It is common for many students to indulge in their favorite snack when they have an overwhelming amount of exams, tests and papers.  Students at the College of Mount St. Joseph are no different, as many weighed in on the reasons they eat comfort food. 

“It’s chocolate.  What else is there?” laughed Megan Pfeiffer, a senior at the Mount.  “It definitely helps me get through homework and especially the stress from finals week.”

Meanwhile, many students said they know these foods aren’t the best to eat, but they can’t help themselves. Some students say they eat these foods simply because they make them feel good.

 “I have wanted to stop eating these foods,” said Becca Hyde, a sophomore at the Mount. “But they’re hard to pass up every time I walk in the kitchen.”

 However, Linda Pruss, RN, C BSN and Coordinator of Health Services at the Mount’s Wellness Center, said that it is perfectly okay for students to eat comfort food, but emphasizes that “moderation is key.”

“If it’s short term and stress-related, it is fine to eat comfort food,” said Pruss.  “It’s better to feed the craving than try to avoid it.”

In addition, Pruss said that some foods like chocolate seem to be a universal comfort food for people, as it actually releases feel good chemicals in the brain.

Although Pruss acknowledged that eating comfort foods is okay, she pointed out that overindulging in these foods can actually be harmful to a person’s health and study habits.

 “When studying and pulling overnighters, a student needs extra sleep, not extra calories,” said Pruss. 

While most comfort foods may give students the rush of energy they need to study, students will eventually crash.  For example, indulging in sugar and energy drinks not only causes this type of sugar rush and crash, but energy drinks can also cause other health problems, such as heart palpitations. 

Nevertheless, Pruss claimed “This is not the time to start a health kick.” With all the stress of the end of the semester, a student doesn’t need to add the stress of a rigorous diet and exercise routine. 

However, if you are looking for other ways to manage stress during the end of the semester, Pruss recommends, “Studying for one to two hours and then taking a brisk 10 minute walk outside clears the mind and allows you to focus.”

Also, Pruss recommends including protein in your diet to give you energy and balance out sugar intake, taking power naps and planning out your study time.