Without stating the obvious, exam time can be stressful.
And it’s easy to become so focused on studying that you can completely forget to eat, snack on memory-saboteurs or worse, mindlessly binge eat until your bloated and brain dead. Heed this advice from The Carousel’s Nutritionist, Bannie Williams and you’ll be eating your way to better health and an A grade performance…
#1 Don’t Skip Meals
You may think the 20 minutes it takes to prepare and eat a healthy brekkie could be better spent on physics, but skipping meals will take its toll on you both physically and mentally. “Ideally, teens should be having three meals per day with two snacks in between,” explains Bannie. “Skipping meals can have a number of detrimental effects. It can slow the metabolism down, impair cognitive ability and concentration, lead to over eating at the next meal time as well as reducing energy levels.”
#2 Satisfy Your Snack Cravings
Snacking is not a bad thing. In fact, snacking in between meals, twice a day, is beneficial when you make smart choices. “Healthy, nutritious snacks, including almonds, natural yoghurt and fruit are an excellent way to keep hunger away, maintain energy levels and reduce the risk of the 3pm slump,” explains Bannie. “The higher the protein and the low GI the better.”
#3 Eat ‘Brain’ Foods
Super foods for concentration to stock up on include almonds, walnuts and brazil nuts – the perfect satiating snack. “These are excellent for concentration as they are high in Omega fatty acids, which promote brain function,” Bannie explains. “Natural protein rich foods are also ideal, including eggs and chia seeds.”
#4 Avoid High Sugar Foods & Excessive Caffeine
We all know a packet of chips or chocolate bar isn’t going to do us, or our abs, any favours, but it can seem oooh so tempting when it’s only an arm’s length away and you’ve reread the same sentence five times – and it still doesn’t make sense. “Sugar hits provide short bursts of energy, however they cause blood sugar levels to spike (the sugar high) and then drop, just as quickly,” Bannie warns. “This can cause irritability, poor concentration as well as inconsistent energy levels. Focus on consuming as many whole, nutritious foods as possible and avoid energy and sugar dense snacks.”
#5 Go Easy on Coffee
At 3am and with three chapters to revise, coffee can seem like your only friend in the world. But too much is ENEMY No:1! Bannie’s tip: “Limit it to two caffeinated beverages per day to prevent dehydration and poor sleep.” Create some chemistry with H2O and you’ll be all the more clearer and happier for it.” Six to eight glasses, remember!
#6 Don’t Binge Eat
Cramming in food is just as bad as cramming for an exam, so space your meals out. “Binge eating is commonly associated with emotional eating, whether it be stress, anxiety or depression,” explains Bannie. “More often than not, the food is seen as a comfort or a way to relieve that emotion – particularly stress. Binge eating can lead to a number of negative health outcomes, including weight gain, stress on internal organs as well as poor eating habits and associations with food.” A happy tummy equals a happy mind. Good luck!
How do you keep your stress levels down and your energy high during exams? Tell us below…