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'-ITOS' DIET FUELS FINALS

Every year around this time, also known as AP testing/finals season, teens everywhere start packing on the pounds. It's called stress eating, coupled with the fact that we sit on our butts for about three weeks studying until our eyes bleed. You know it's bad when even walking to the fridge feels like a challenge. Here are some "brain" foods that, though they may not be so healthful, will get you through crunch time.

Party with the family.

Fritos, Doritos, Tostitos and their -etos cousin, Cheetos. In my life, this kind of stands in for the dairy part of the food pyramid (yogurt was never really my thing). I like to cover some whole grain Tostitos with a shredded cheddar cheese blend and stick it in the microwave for about a minute. Delicious cheesy nachos from the comfort of your own prison (a.k.a your desk).

Maruchan Instant Lunch.

Start preparing now, seniors, college life is not kind to anyone (or their stomachs). I find that Instant Lunch is a tastier alternative to the ever popular Ramen noodles because without the sodium-packed flavor packets, the noodles taste like Elmer's glue. Plus, Instant Lunch is quicker from zap to mouth because that practically radioactive (okay, it's high in sodium, too) flavor powder is premixed with a little bit of freeze-dried vegetables.

Have fun with coffee.

Some of us are coffee buffs. Others are so innocent that we are untouched by the wretched spell hard caffeine can cast. For those too wimpy to drink the hot stuff black, try making a pot of coffee and letting it cool. Pour it over ice and mix with some simple syrup (water and sugar boiled together until the sugar melts). It will make a great cool iced coffee for the Florida-hot nights you spend studying. It also goes great with Oreo cookies when you're looking to satisfy a sweet tooth.

Frozen dinners.

The easiest meal comes in a little package you can find in the freezer aisle of your grocery store. It can be quite disgusting and sometimes deprived of nutrition, but it does the deed when you're really hungry. The Hungry Man brand dinners are about as good as they come, and Lean Cuisine meals aren't too shabby if you're more health conscious about the loads of sodium frozen dinners often contain.

Michael Newcomer is a junior at Tarpon Springs High.

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