The eternal question: what to eat while studying? It’s not as easy as it sounds. From spilling tea all over your laptop to stirring the volcanic anger of the girl opposite with your super-crunchy apple, eating while studying – and fuelling your brain at the same time – is a minefield…By Charlotte Salter.
In the interest of science (and hunger) I have snacked my way through countless foodstuffs in the Library to bring you the top ten:
Ease – how easy is it to study at the same time as eating?
Brain fuel – how long will it keep you going for?
Embarrassment factor – how embarrassing is it to eat in front of everyone?
10. Instant noodles
We all know those noodles-in-a-pot; add hot water, poke, and voila – instant meal. But this is where I issue a warning: don’t even try to consume this in the Library or any of the Grids, hot food is blacklisted.
Ease: 2. Just because you need to find a source of hot water and a suitable place to eat it. (Hint: you can eat hot foods in the Dining Grid in Rootes, open for the first couple of weeks of term 3)
Brain fuel: 4. Show me an instant noodle with no MSG and real veg and I’ll eat my hat.
Embarrassment factor: 8. As potentially splashy as pasta (see below), but with the added danger of hot noodly broth.
I know for a fact that fellow blogger Tom Stewart is the king of snacks, and crisps are one of his specialities. They’re great for group meetings (instant friend points for anyone who supplies food, amiright?) and they’re super-tasty. But oh, my friends, are they fraught with danger.
Ease: A one-handed snack, so let’s say 7. But if you’re carrying them in your bag they’re liable to get squashed.
Brain fuel: 2. They’re not that filling and there is nothing healthy about them. Eat them as a side.
Embarrassment factor: a whole 10. I ended up doing that thing where you try to chew them in slow motion to be quiet, but just ended up drawing out the agony. And the crumbs, the greasy fingers…
Sometimes only a cake-like item will fill the hole in your stomach. I have a serious sweet tooth, particularly when it comes to chocolate, so this was the most enjoyable part of my, er, hard-hitting journalistic research.
Ease: 6. Muffins require your full attention (peeling the case off and eating? It’s not for the faint hearted).
Brain fuel: 5. The sugary hit will do your essay wonders for, like, ten minutes.
Embarrassment factor: 6, due to the impossibility of eating it neatly.
Ok, so it’s not food, but even if you go decaf, there’s something undeniably cool about sitting in the corner, rings under your eyes, sipping moodily from a paper cup as you contemplate the meaning of the Library.
Ease: Actually only a 5. You know how the plastic lids never quite fit and all the liquid comes dribbling out? And you burn your tongue? And even if you bring your own in a thermos it’s never quite how you like it? Yeah, me too.
Brain fuel: 4. It might keep you awake for a bit, but the effect is hugely psychological, and caffeine is dehydrating.
Embarrassment factor: 2. Coffee will always be your friend.
A make-and-transport snack from home. Can also be replaced with couscous. Throw in some veg and seasoning, and you’re done!
Ease: 5. It’s easy to drop bits everywhere and tricky to surreptitiously pick out of the carpet.
Brain fuel: 7. A filling meal!
Embarrassment factor: 3, due to possible debris.
Cold penne, macaroni, twirly shapes, tomato and herb sauce, fish, chicken – there’s so much you can do with a bit of pasta. It’s filling, tasty, and simple to make at home and pack in your bag.
Ease: 5. The sauce can be a bit splashy, and your tutor doesn’t want to see that tuna stain.
Brain fuel: 7 – another filling snack!
Embarrassment factor: 3 (see ‘ease’). But don’t even talk to me about spaghetti.
The humble banana seems to be the staple food of study snacking, and there’s a reason they’re all over the place.
Ease: 7. Everyone can peel a banana. Plus they’re cheap, making them easy on the pocket too.
Brain fuel: 7 again. Bananas are surprisingly filling, and they’re one of your five-a-day. Your assignment will love you.
Embarrassment factor: 4. Mostly because of the shape.
They’re sweet, chewy, full of energy and a handful counts as another of your five-a-day. If you buy a bag of supermarket basic-range raisins or sultanas, they’re also pretty cheap and go a long way. The downside: You’d have to eat a lot to stave off the hunger pangs, and for fruit they’ve got a very high sugar content.
Ease: 9. You can eat one-handed! Just don’t get them stuck between the pages of your book like me.
Brain fuel: 5 (lotsa vitamins, but you’d need a truckload to fill you up).
Embarrassment factor: Just 1. Hurrah!
(Disclaimer: a salad is only a salad if it contains interesting bits as well as leaves. Tuna and potato is a winner.)
Ease: 7, if you remember to bring a fork. Otherwise, infinitely low.
Brain fuel: 8 if you bulk it out with other delicious things. You can pack a lot of variety in, and remember, the more colourful it is the wider range of vitamins it is likely to contain.
Embarrassment factor: 1. Plus you look super prepared and healthy.
Okay, so it depends what kind of sandwich it is – the ham salad roll is only a distant cousin of the turkey-dinner baguette with extra sauce. But that’s the beauty of the thing-between-other-things foodstuff. It’s easy to transport, cheap if you make it at home, and you can add whatever you want. Enjoy gorgonzola and gravy? Go for it. As long as you’re nowhere near me when you eat it.
Ease: 8 unless it passes the two-inch-thick mark.
Brain fuel: Up to 8. If you use brown bread and add some salad your brain will throw you a party.
Embarrassment factor: only 1. A sandwich will never make you look uncool.
As unscientific as the above is, taking time to eat while you’re working is incredibly important. Have you ever tried writing an essay on an empty stomach? I’m convinced I lose ten marks every time it happens. So go on. Put the pen down, shut the laptop, and go get a snack. You never know, it might make working more enjoyable!