If you are like most students, then exam time can be a difficult time to maintain good eating habits. It’s easy to snack on sugary foods, but this can negatively affect your energy levels and ability to focus. Instead of using exam stress as an excuse to eat poorly, you should realise that healthy eating, drinking and relaxation are some of the key pillars of success in these exams.
Here are some helpful hints to overcome these nutritional pitfalls…
Now is the time to start taking Fish Oils…
One supplement that is always encouraged for students is Omega-3 fish oil tablets. Studies have shown that the long-chain fatty acids (omega-3s) found in fish oils can influence both academic performance and behaviour.
Fortunately for you, it takes about four weeks for the stores of these oils to build up in the body and to take effect. So now’s the perfect time to start. You can also eat more oily fish – preferably fresh tuna, salmon or mackerel.
The right food for the right results!
If possible, it’s best to try and eat small, frequent meals to keep your blood sugar and energy levels steady. By preparing easy and convenient meal-type foods in advance, you can avoid living entirely on snack foods, which wouldn’t usually give you as much energy as a real meal.
Good and convenient examples include bean soups, peanut butter and meat sandwiches, ready- to-eat tuna and chicken salads and different kinds of nuts. If you absolutely crave something sweet, then consider a high protein nutrition bar instead of sweets.
In this way, meals and snacks that emphasise protein over carbohydrates are best, as they keeps your energy at an even level and unlike caffeine won’t leave you jittery.
Snack on cheese, crackers and milk, for example, instead of bread and juice. Add grilled chicken to pasta instead of just sauce.
Don’t snack at your desk!
Don’t bring the food to your study place. Try to eat snacks in the kitchen or another part of your house, just make sure it’s away from the desk.
Tasty Snacks ideas…
Good ideas for stocking snacks: nuts, raisins, cheese sticks, low-fat yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese, low-fat milk, crunchy fresh fruits and veggies (add dip for the veggies), frozen juice bars, wholegrain breakfast cereals, oatmeal, low-fat popcorn, herbal teas, etc.
Remember, only eat when physically hungry, not out of boredom!
Cut back on coffee!
Don’t replace protein with caffeine. Limit your intake of caffeine, but cut back gradually if you’re used to it. Drink a lot of water during study times!
Take a Nap!
If you’re experiencing a mid-afternoon slump when you study, even when you’ve slept well, strong evidence shows that a 15-20 minute nap can improve alertness, sharpen memory and generally reduce the symptoms of fatigue.
But first, a few points….
Firstly, remember a nap is not a substitute for a full night’s sleep; it is only a short-term solution.
Secondly, if getting to sleep or staying asleep at night is a problem, then naps are not the solution. Try finishing up study and eating a little earlier instead.
Finally, and very importantly, remember to…
…take time to relax!
The spring sunshine is here and it makes break-time a lot more enjoyable. Make sure to get outside over the Easter break and enjoy the weather a couple of times a day, if even for only ten minutes at a time. Don’t get carried away and forget the books inside though!