The Brain Box is a wellness initiative that Campus Dietitian Laura Martorano developed for finals week to combat the damage that stress can cause to our bodies. She used the new trend of themed box kits to incorporate the awesome superfoods recipes and ingredients offered throughout the dining program.
“I came up with the idea because I wanted to expand the Boost Your Brain Power initiative outside of dine-in and to help students who may be living in the apartments and utilizing the campus convenience stores for their groceries and supplies,” explained Martorano. These boxes are a fun way to highlight healthy snacks that provide superfoods, antioxidants, polyphenols (micronutrients that naturally occur in plants), dietary fiber, protein and whole grain carbohydrates.
Some of the superfoods that are included in these brain boxes are dark chocolate, almonds, pomegranates, figs, blueberries and whole grains that can help reduce oxidative stress that can occur on the inside. Students may have tighter schedules and limited time to break for meals, so a box that is dedicated to boosting brain power is helpful for a quick snack and provides the nutrients to support the stressful time of finals.
The Faculty Student Association (FSA) and CulinArt wanted to ensure healthy snacks are readily available to make it easier to avoid junk foods and excessive caffeine. The convenience stores are stocked with water, seltzer, green tea and other healthy beverages to keep students hydrated. The spring semester offered “Wellness Wednesday” pop up events with the campus dietitian at dine-in so students could meet Ms. Martorano and pick up a healthy snack. During finals week, there are many healthy choices at the Plantiful station and throughout dine-in plus daily hydration stations with infused waters (cucumber and mint, citrus blend, strawberry, and watermelon) are also available.
“Eating healthy during finals is extremely important to help decrease any inflammation that stress can bring about. Stress can lead to many complications, and it is important to provide yourself with the proper nourishment to support your mental health and physical health during finals. Inflammation can also weaken your immune system, cause weight gain, alter blood sugars, decrease mental clarity and affect your cardiovascular system,” Martorano concludes.
There are a variety of reasons to visit the campus dietitian, such as overall nutrition and general recommendations, weight management, sports and performance needs, allergies and digestive issues, fad diets and diet trends or mindful eating. Students can request an appointment online for free nutrition counseling at any time throughout the year.