Food for thought.
It’s hard to believe that its already week 11 of the semester, and pretty soon we’ll be counting down the days until Christmas! However, while most people will be looking forward to the most wonderful time of the year, us students we will be preparing for the busiest time of the year! For most of us at university, the next few weeks will be full of deadlines, exams and presentations.
After spending all day in the library studying, it’s so tempting to pick up the phone and order a pizza, or to head to the vending machine for a bar of chocolate or fizzy drink. But, while we’re faced with pressure and stress at university, it’s really important to stay healthy!
Your brain can’t work without energy. Eat regularly to nourish your brain and to keep it sharp and active during exam periods! It’s really important to snack regularly while studying to keep your brain alert. However, its equally as important to snack on the RIGHT sort of foods. It’s easy to fall into the ‘emotional eating’ trap, when you eat for comfort rather than to fuel your brain. When you’re not being mindful about what you’re eating, you can easily make some really bad food decisions that can reduce your ability to concentrate.
The energy that your body can get from sweet and fatty snacks such as chocolate and crisps is temporary, and will result in blood sugar crash in the afternoon. Here are some snack suggestions to keep your brain active throughout the day.
Nuts and seeds!
Contain high levels of vitamin E. Almonds and walnuts are particularly high in fibre, which will help to convert food into energy for higher brain function.
Dark chocolate – full of magnesium and anti-oxidants, dark chocolate has been scientifically proven to reduce stress levels and help your overall concentration, and so it is an ideal snack for studying. Also, with a richer, stronger flavour, you may find you need less to get your chocolate fix!
Blueberries! Berries, blueberries in particular, have been proven to improve memory and concentration. Try a blueberry and banana smoothie instead of heading to the vending machine.
While we cram our brains full of information, the last thing many of us have time to think about is meal planning! Try to plan ahead, for example, if you cook a tomato pasta sauce, why not double your portion and put the other half in the freezer for a quick meal another day. Alternatively, batch cook your meals at the weekend and store them in containers in the fridge, so they are available throughout the week.
Oily fish – Fish such as salmon and trout contain high levels of omega 3 fats, which keep our brains healthy and active. Studies have shown omega 3 fats may reduce memory loss.
Go for wholegrains – Wholegrains (brown breads, brown pasta, whole grain cereals, potatoes, oats) have a low-gi, which keeps you focused and alert throughout your days of studying by keeping your blood sugar levels stable.
Eggs – Eggs are a cheap and fantastic source of protein. They contain a high level of vitamins that the brain uses to produce energy. Don’t skip on the yolk, as that is the most nutritious (and yummiest) part!
While coffee is traditionally known for keeping you alert and focused during periods of sleep deprivation, too much caffeine can have a hugely negative effect on your concentration, and may reduce your ability to focus
Instead, try herbal teas. Decaffeinated herbal teas are really relaxing and may help you concentrate.
Water! Water is so important. Your body is made up of water, and its so important that you stay hydrated throughout your studying.
Avoid energy drinks!
These are full of sugar, and they don’t provide a long-term fix. They might give you a temporary buzz of energy, but soon after, you’ll experience a total crash. Research has actually linked energy drinks to increased stress hormones, which is not ideal when you’re already stressed about deadlines!
Our diet has a huge impact on our overall physical and mental health, and it’s so important to stay healthy over the exam period! What we eat has such a big impact on our brains ability to store information and concentrate, so it’s crucial to fuel our brains with the correct food!