deadlines coming up: food habits


Hey guys, I am wondering what food habits fellow phds follow during crunch time. Not talking about 1-2 day stress but say you know you have to slog it out for a month and dont want to waste time cooking,but dont want to live off unhealthy stuff like pizza..any suggestions? also, does anyone here feel that exercising during high stress periods helps you focus?


I think that during periods of high stress it is important to make sure that you are getting healthy meals, and of course, exercise is very key to managing stress and keeping focus. Cooking need be no more complicated than boiling a pot of water for rice or pasta, or spending about 5 minutes stir-frying some chicken on the stove top. Ready made meals are loaded with horrible chemicals and high amounts of sodium, can do fine with a few minutes of boiling--put a pot on to boil, and sit and read nearby if you want, so you do not feel as if you are taking away from studying. Cooking need not mean huge elaborate preparations.


Plus I just read something in the news about new research showing cancer links between highly processed foods and certain types of cancer...


when i have long stressful periods, i do tend to neglect my diet a bit. simply because i don't have time to do much shopping, i eat less fresh stuff. what i do to counteract that, is that i drink smoothies and pure fruit juices. in one shopping session, you can get enough to last you two weeks, unlike fresh fruit and veg which would go bad in that time.
i also make sure that if i eat one proper meal a day, it's breakfast. cereal with milk and yogurt mixed up in it is always a good bet, plus those juices.


the rest of the day i just eat whatever it takes to keep me going. i usually only realize that i should eat when i'm really very hungry, so i don't have the patience to go shopping, plan, or cook something proper. so in stressful times, apart from juices and breakfast, i stuff my fridge/cupboard with things that are ready to eat in minutes, cooked or uncooked (such as: pasta and stir-through sauce; packs of couscous which i eat with "cup-soups"; pre-cut stir-fry veggies; packs of dried fruit, fruit/cereal bars, chocolate & cookies, crisps, etc.)
the whole point being that i don't need to go shopping more than once a week max, and always have enough to keep going.
i also tend to spend more money on food when i'm under time-pressure. i grab something somewhere and eat it on the bus/train to save time. but that's not very healthy i suppose.


I tend to have cooking sessions where I cook stuff in bulk so that I can fill my freezer up. Soups, curries, casseroles... Ok so not as good as made fresh but still a quick and healthy home-made option for those busy evenings when you have nothing fresh in the fridge. I also try to buy lots of fresh, fruit and vege. I then make smoothies from the fruit and cook the fresh vege to go with casseroles etc.


I second Krashty's advice - if you are cooking anything freezable, cook double and freeze the leftovers.
I find planning helps - it saves on trips to the supermarket (if you make a list of ingredients for a few meals - combined with cooking in bulk it saves a lot of time).
Do you live with anyone and you could agree to cook for each other one night a week - saves the other one having to bother?
Or - go out to eat...


I always cook loads and freeze away in containers for each day. It saves time and I do get to eat well (minus the freezing!) Having fruits on the side keeps me going + a good old jog in the park a couple of times a week.I find the latter so refreshing.


thanks guys. I have always known that good food and exercise will help anyone get through stress better. Guess this time I will actually try it out. I feel so nervous, its such an important deadline...but I want to use this time as an experiment for myself. Life is so much fun when you stage your own personal little experiments.


I tend to cook things in bulk and keep it in the fridge, so whenever I get hungry I can just tuck in. Having said that, I also contribute much of my weight gain to doing this--even though I've been cooking pretty healthy stuff, I end up eating too much!!! My diet tends to fluctuate. I'll have three or four days of eating rubbish, realise that I'm doing it, and then have a few days of eating really healthy. If I'm really stressed (brought on by writing!!!) I'll 'comfort eat' crisps, ice cream, etc.


Hi bellaz,
I think the role of daily exercise has been completely ignored or under-estimated by us students. If you come to think about it, it is as important as breathing fresh air and eating good food. It directly stimulates your mind, and what else does a grad student need really? 30 mins of cardio or aerobics should suffice I think. Staring at the computer screen for 12 hrs a day and then at the television screen for the remaining time can be quite a numbing experience for your poor brain.


I find that when I'm stressed I snack a lot more on things like biscuits and chocolate. However, it's important to try and eat good healthy meals. This need not be complicated, there are lots of recipes on the web for tasty and quick meals. I find cooking quite theraputic as a break from work.


Cooking IS therapeutic, and exercise is a must! Before I made an effort to be healthy I thought that cooking fresh meals and working out 3-4 times a week would be too time consuming. Now I do exactly that and I'm so much more chilled out and productive - don't get me wrong, with a deadline looming I still get surly but I just schedule a 'break' in which I'll exercise for 45 minutes and make a stirfry...which is also sociable because it forces me into the kitchen and to talk to people! Then I go back to my work full of endorphins.


my problem is not cooking a meal, its the need to have something to nibble on whilst working I do have the fruit as well, but usually crave something savoury, pringles go down well, so do other crispy things as you can handle them more easily than an apple or something, and oranges and the like just mean you have to go and wash your hands, which stops the flow. The dog takes care of the exercise, and the rest of the family mean that meals have to be cooked, not always by me though which is a bonus!