Posted by: Hil | December 12, 2008

Coping Mechanisms


Between now and next Friday, I have three finals to take (each in excess of 4 hours), a 40 page paper to finish and turn in, a dress rehearsal to attend, and a concert to perform in.  Needless to say, food is not the first thing on my mind at the moment.  This post is a brief ode to the foods that are keeping me nourished and sustained when I have absolutely zero time to think about preparing foods.  The pita pizza with vegetables and low fat cheese ranks very high on this list.  It takes zero time and tastes like comfort food, but is very sustaining.  I add crushed red pepper to mine to wake up my mouth…I tend to eat like a sleepwalker when I’m under stress.

I do not like convenience food.  I avoid it whenever possible.  I think it is overpriced and tastes like plastic.  I don’t think I’ve ever purchased a frozen entree in my life.  But these soups are amazing.  They require nothing more complicated than boiling water, but they are devoid of mystery ingredients, boast impressive nutrition stats and (most importantly) taste terrific.  I always keep these in my pantry for days when I really want a hot lunch at school or for days when my fridge is completely bare and I need hot food in my system before I feel up to shopping.  Black Bean and Lime and Split Pea with Barley are by far the most filling flavors, but the other ones are tasty, too.


The Add-Whatever-IS-In-The-Fridge Past Dish is also a lifesaver.  Again, easy and it gets some vegetables into me.


When I go to the store, I buy tons of extra fresh fruit…as much as I can.  I always eat a lot of fruit, but during finals, I tend to eat more fruit and somewhat fewer veggies just because fruit takes zero prep time.  Having it on hand reduces my desire to either skip meals or snack on something unwise.


I am really not a bar fan for the most part.  I just don’t think your average bar compares well in taste or price to cheese and crackers or some good homemade trail mix.  But in times of severe time crunch (and spending hours cooped up in the library), a healthy bar can be a lifesaver.  This is a dragon bar, which is a local treat made of walnuts, honey, black sesame seeds and cinnamon.  They are not as healthy as some, but they are fresh and taste like baklava filling, so I treat myself every now and then.


Cinnamon toast is one of my favorite comfort foods.  A little butter and sugar goes a long way toward making me happy.  I am of the opinion that keeping yourself happy during times of stress is a wise and pleasant course of action.  And because I make it on whole wheat bread, it’s a very sustaining snack.


Finally, eating out.  Obviously not every restaurant has healthy options, but there are plenty that do.  And during finals season, I am happy to spend more money than usual to ensure that I am eating properly.  And there is something about dragging myself to a restaurant that helps me temporarily relax and let go of my stress in a way that eating at home doesn’t.  I think this is because at home, I eat my meals just a few feet away from my desk…not a lot of mental space there.


Do you guys have any coping mechanisms for Those Weeks when you’re chained to your desk and have no time or energy to cook? Please share!



  1. Wow, hang in there! I hope everything turns out.

  2. Same amount of finals coming up for me too – hope yours go well!!

  3. Same here – lots of fruit. Well, I always eat lots of fruit.

    I adore cinnamon toast and I haven’t had it in ages and now I think I might have it as my dessert tonight. Yum!

  4. I think you’re right- fresh foods are superior to bars! I still eat bars though.
    I just try to spread things out all semester so I don’t have to cram all insane at the end. I can’t handle it!

  5. Kick butt on your finals Hil! I turned in my last final today (still have 2 classes to go) and it felt sooooo good!

    I tried to make the Lemonator’s cinnamon toast on tortilla today…but I subbed TJs whole wheat pita (split in half) for a tortilla. Totally not the same thing, but it was a great comfort food snack/study break!

  6. damn girl, you are busy. get back to work!

  7. i ALMOST bought that soup yesterday but i wasn’t sure if it was any good 🙂

  8. Mmm fruit.

    Poached egg on toast is great. I’ll also make air-popped popcorn, oatmeal, or have an apple with cheese or peanut butter when I’m too busy/can’t be bothered to make a proper meal.

  9. Ah, law school final exams…as much as being in the “real world” can make me long for the days of school, those are something that I am glad to be finished with! But it sounds like you are handling the stress very well – better than I ever did!! Good luck!!

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