I teach in a culinary school where some of our classes are six hours long, back-to-back. Some of our students (and faculty) are in hot, steamy kitchens for thirteen hours every day! Unfortunately, this scenario happens too often: A student who hasn’t eaten enough suddenly becomes lightheaded. We’ve all felt this way, often as a mid-afternoon crash, but there is a simple solution that prevents fatigue, improves concentration, and decreases money spent on that 3:00 PM coffee run. Eat a simple snack!
Vending machine fixes, such as candy bars, chips, pastries, or soft drinks, are usually high in refined sugars that may give you a quick boost but eventually cause a crash that decreases performance. For snacks with real staying power, you may need to plan ahead – but I promise this will only take five minutes! Choose carbohydrates plus fiber, fat and/or protein. Good choices include fresh fruit plus nuts or nut butter, trail mix, low sugar granola bars (aim for <8g sugar), or hummus and veggie sticks. These snacks are excellent, portable choices, and are often sold in single-serve packs at the grocery store. Having spent many years working with children, I find that a designated snack drawer or shelf in the pantry or fridge may be the easiest solution for busy lives – and snacks that are appropriate for you are appropriate for kids, too! Can’t avoid the vending machine? Bring fruit with you and look for nuts, seeds, baked chips or pretzels. Your body and brain will thank you!