It’s exam season, which can only mean if you’re a student that you’re up late, eating badly and in a constant state of mild panic. But what if it didn’t have to be that way?
Nutrition experts say that eating well can make a real difference to how well you revise. It’s not rocket science, so with a bit of careful planning here’s how to eat and drink like a boss over the revision period:
Water vs Caffeine
There’s no doubt that water is great for you. In fact, keeping hydrated can boost your attention span by up to 25%. Drinking relatively small amounts of water (300ml, a small bottle of water) can help improve your memory and overall mood.
Ah caffeine, our old friend! Coffee does have a lot of benefits: it acts as an antioxidant, it can be good for your heart and can help stop you developing type 2 diabetes. However, with all good things (apart from water it seems), there is a limit before things might take a turn for the worse. If you drink too much caffeine it can actually cause a dip in focus and energy. In some cases it can even cause sudden heart palpitations! A cup of instant coffee contains 100mg of caffeine and there’s 75mg in a regular cup of black tea. There’s also 45mg in 100g of dark chocolate and 35mg in a can of Coke, it all adds up! Most adults can tolerate a 200mg dose of caffeine with 400mg being the maximum per day. It’s important to remember that the strength of caffeine varies from drink to drink, so limit yourself to two cups of coffee per day.
Wholegrain foods like wholemeal bread and brown rice will stave off hunger. Furthermore combining wholegrains with proteins like fish and eggs will keep your blood sugar levels balanced. This means your concentration levels will be higher for longer. You don’t need to buy fancy stuff, cheap grains such as brown rice and oats are packed with all the right things you need.
Pro Tip: Buckwheat contains high levels of magnesium which helps calm nerves. It is also gluten free for those with intolerances.
What about vitamin supplements?
At this time of the year students are understandably tired and worried about getting ill during exam season. It’s often recommended that taking vitamin supplements is a quick and easy way to get everything you need in one tablet to keep your immune system going. However, this may not always be the case. For instance, oranges are not only packed with vitamin C but also fibre and other elements that aren’t included in vitamin tablets.
The key is to have as varied a diet as possible. Try to include as many different coloured foods as you can to get a range of vitamins and nutrients. It is recommended to garnish your plate with at least three varied colours of food at each mealtime.
Pro Tip: Buy frozen berries rather than fresh to save a bit of money and use them for a variety of things such as smoothies, desserts and snacks. Swap sweets and chocolates bars for nuts and cereal bars which will see you further and are much better for you!
Finally, we wish you good luck throughout exam season this summer!