Exams are a time of anxiety and nervousness – not only for the students but also for the parents.
To sail through trials with flying colors requires working hard and burning the midnight oil. But what you also need is to focus on your eating habits, sleeping habits, and mental and physical fitness. If you are attending an exam or your son or daughter is taking exams, it is important that you make sure they are eating right and that their brain is getting a steady supply of energy. The better the fuel for your brain, the better you will learn. So don’t let good nutrition slide down your list of priorities and make a nutrition plan an important part of your study plan.
Different foods are broken down in different ways and have different effects on the body. How often you eat is just as important as what you eat. Below are some simple nutrition tips to help you eat right, be more mindful, and sail through those exam blues.
Here are 10 tips for eating right during the exam:
- Make sure you’re getting your daily vitamin and mineral needs by consuming a balanced diet that gets at least 50-60% of your calories from complex carbohydrates (whole grains), 20-30% from good lean proteins (quark , eggs, fish, sprouts) and the rest from good fats (nuts, olive oil).
Consuming adequate amounts of iron and B complex vitamins is important to maintain the physical and mental energy required for good study. Foods high in iron include eggs, whole grains (jowar and ragi), rajmah, sesame seeds (to seed), and spinach. Foods that contain B vitamins include whole grains, wheat germ, eggs, soy products, and nuts.
When you go to the library, pack whole foods like apples, bananas, almonds, carrot sticks, or dried apricots. An orange not only contains vitamin C, but also fiber, phytochemicals, beta-carotene and other minerals – so it cannot be replaced by a pill.
Eat on a regular basis. Eating meals every 2-3 hours helps keep nutrient and energy levels more stable, curbs the temptation for low-calorie snacking, and improves your alertness.
Large meals keep turning…in the stomach. You may find that eating the usual three large meals a day slows you down mentally and physically. So it’s wise to consider 5 or 6 balanced and high-energy snacks like wheat bread toast spread with peanut butter, sprouted bean curd or a piece of cheese with fruit.
Never skip meals, especially breakfast. While much is said about the importance of breakfast to replenish your energy stores, the right breakfast options are less well known. Coffee and a burger or donut just won’t cut it. The idea is to get some protein, calcium, fiber, and a piece of fruit or veg in it. So a bowl of cereal with milk and a piece of fruit would do the trick. Or try a wheat bread sandwich with scrambled eggs or cottage cheese.
Go bananas. Fruit is one of the best eating habits or in-between snacks for your brain. Fruits like oranges, strawberries, apples, bananas, pears, and cinnamon apples get a lot of attention because they contain powerful antioxidants and other nutrients. The presence of natural sugars in fruit provides clean energy, so you don’t experience the crash or blood sugar spikes that follow consuming refined sugar.
Choose green and colorful vegetables. Not all vegetables are the same. The darker the color, the higher the nutrient concentration. For example, carrots and spinach have more to offer the brain than cabbage or cauliflower. Other great vegetables include tomatoes, beets, peppers, broccoli, and sweet potatoes.
Clever snacking can improve learning – Clever snacking helps you retain more. Try to include two food groups in your snacks to balance nutrients and keep your blood sugar levels stable. Some examples of clever snacks are bananas with peanut butter, some idlis with sambhar, stuffed paranthas with cottage cheese, fruit juices, or a cup of curd with fruit. Collect easy recipes for nutritious foods. It’s easy to feed the brain well. You don’t have to be a chef or spend hours in the kitchen to produce brain-healthy recipes.
Stay well hydrated. Choose your drinks wisely, keeping cups of coffee or cans of Coke to a minimum. Since too much caffeine can make you jittery, try not to drink more than a few cups a day and replace them with favorite beverages like buttermilk, fruit juice, lime water, milkshakes, or green tea. The plain water (at least 8-10 glasses a day) remains the best way to keep you rehydrated.
I hope you can follow the guidelines and eat right during the exams.
Thanks to Dr. Panchali Moitra