Illustration by Beatriz Espinosa

“Did you know those granola bars you eat are full of sugar?” My father’s voice carried through the phone following his doctor’s appointment. I didn’t know that, nor did I want to know that. I enjoyed living in joyful ignorance as I marched to class each morning with my dark chocolate, almond granola bar in hand.

Much like Leslie Knope’s obsession with NutriYum bars in the television show “Parks and Recreation,” I used granola bars to get through stressful times such as midterms and finals week. When I didn’t have time to run to the Hub, I would simply eat another granola bar.

The scene of Leslie, along with the entire office, running around and dancing after eating NutriYums is a perfect portrayal of myself after a day of granola bars as snacks. “Ready to take on finals!” I screamed at 10 a.m., only to crash by noon and eat another bar. This began the cycle of my day that consisted of solo dance parties, rapid typing, shaking hands and multiple sugar crashes.

In the NutriYum episode, Leslie is lucky to have Anne Perkins inform her of the lack of nutrition in the bars and point out all of the sugar they contain. My father was my own Anne Perkins as he told me over the phone healthier options that his doctor had informed him of.

“Healthy” granola bars can range from six grams of added sugar up to 21 grams, which is far too much for a miniscule snack bar. According to the American Heart Association, the maximum amount of sugar we should consume in a day is 37.5 grams for males and 25 grams for females. I frantically checked the back of the half-eaten bar in my hand and found it had 12 grams of sugar. Basically, I could say goodbye to dessert tonight.

But as the weeks went on and the quarter became more intense, I found myself having less and less time for food. I entered the Hub to find a long line. My class began in five minutes. I opened my backpack and a granola bar stared back at me … I walked to class eating my granola bar and arrived peppy and ready to tackle my exam.

“So what,” I said to myself as I fell back into a cycle of eating granola bars on a daily basis. “I’m young and my body can afford it,” which is true to some extent. Although, as Leslie Knope learned in the Nutriyum episode, sugar highs aren’t the most productive way to get your work done. Sugar crashes are real and just imagine trying to complete your finals after you’ve suffered from a sugar crash.

We have all heard the saying “sugar is good in moderation” and maybe that’s the rule we should abide by when reaching for a granola bar. The next time you see one on the shelf, remember that while it may have nuts and granola and the word “healthy” plastered across the package, you might as well be reaching for a candy bar.

Finals week is officially upon us so remember to manage your time, monitor your sugar intake and in the words of Leslie Knope, “There’s nothing we can’t do if we work hard, never sleep and shirk all other responsibilities in our lives.”