Eat your way to exam success
Do you find it hard to concentrate at school? It might not be because you find the lesson boring. Research suggests that what you eat can affect your brain power - so can you really munch your way to better grades?
There is so much in the media about healthy eating these days that it's easy just to switch off. But, with your exams coming up, it's worth trying to eat a balanced diet. Research has shown that eating certain foods and maintaining a balanced diet can help improve your concentration: so whilst it won't make you a genius, it might just give you the edge you need to perform better in exams.
Gobble up good grades
Nutrition Scientist Claire MacEvilly explains why it's important to maintain a balanced diet throughout the exam period:
- Although weighing only 2% of total body weight, the brain uses approximately 20% of the body's energy at rest. This is why regular, nutritious meals are important during exam time.
- The brain is powered by energy which comes from broken down food. The primary source of energy for the brain is glucose which comes from carbohydrate rich foods like breads and pasta. The brain's energy stores are very small, so to keep it functioning at its best, it needs constant glucose replacement.
- Food influences mood, but mood also influences food choice. There is no magic food to relieve stress, but we would recommend that you avoid skipping meals at all costs.
- There is no such thing as good or bad foods for exams, or any other time of the year. There are however bad habits! Focusing on one particular food is a bad thing, so you shouldn't really be eating vast amounts of one particular food.
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day
It's a cliché, but breakfast really IS the most important meal of the day. Your body has been starved of food all night while you sleep and you need to refuel to prepare for the school day ahead. Here are some tips for the best way to start your day. Healthy options include:
- Cereal or toast, but make sure you choose a low sugar/salt cereal and try to go for wholemeal bread.
- Get a fruit portion in the morning by having a glass of pure fruit juice.
- Porridge - it's surprisingly tasty, and can be made in the microwave. Try it with natural honey and a chopped banana.
You can make healthy choices if you're having a school dinner at lunchtime; you just need to know which foods to pick.
- Salads can be a good choice, but make sure you go easy on dressings.
- Jacket potatoes can be very healthy, but try not to have cheese as a topping all the time.
- You should be eating five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, so stock up at lunchtime.
If you're not cooking your own tea, try to get whoever is to steer clear of fatty, fried food. A proper evening meal will help your brain to tackle homework.