With good nutrition comes better thinking and more motivation. Check out these nine nutrition tips to help maximize your studying.
Drink water regularly. It’s a calorie-free way to quench your thirst and it also helps you stay focussed. Because our bodies are made up of 60 per cent water, we should be drinking three litres (men) or two litres (women) per day.
Tip – Have a glass of water on your desk and sip on it frequently while you are studying. Carry a refillable water bottle during the day.
Sugary foods and beverages provide calories and little else. Sugar makes your blood sugar rise and then fall rapidly which can contribute to lethargy and dizziness, two things you don’t need when your exam is in a few hours.
Tip – Add 3/4 cup of carbonated water to 1/4 cup of fruit juice to get the flavour you desire but the calories you don’t.
Go Green (and red, and yellow…)
Choose green, red, yellow, orange and blue fruits and vegetables every day. The best way to improve your nutrition is to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables of all different colours. Each one contains important vitamins and minerals to help your body stay healthy and strong, especially during exam time.
Tip - Always carry fruits or cut up vegetables in a container for an easy and nutritious grab and go snack.
Nuts are a great source of protein and have many health benefits such as lowering cholesterol and, when eaten in moderation, improve your mood. They are inexpensive, easy to store and to take with you to work or school.
Tip – Mix together ¼ cup of each, peanuts, almonds, cashews and seeds and ½ cup of dried fruits to munch on to refuel when studying.
Fish for Health
Fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids and enhances learning, improves problem-solving skills and boosts memory power. Try eating fish at least 2 to3 times per week to reap the benefits.
Tip – Wrap a piece of fish in tin foil, place on a baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes at 350 degrees for a quick and easy dinner. Serve with a side of rice and greens. Tuna right out of the can is always a quick and healthy standby as well.
Seek the Darker Side Of Chocolate
Dark chocolate not only satisfies your sweet tooth but also acts as an endorphin — giving off the feeling of pleasure and helping lower blood pressure.
Tip – When cravings strike, go ahead and indulge in 2 to 3 squares of dark chocolate with at least 85% cocoa.
Is grabbing a coffee the first thing you do before cracking open your books? If so, are you getting too much caffeine? Health Canada recommends no more than 400mg of caffeine per day, which is the equivalent of three 8 ounce cups (720ml). A Starbucks Venti contains 2.5 cups of coffee (592ml), almost the recommended intake for the entire day!
Tip - Too much caffeine can make you feel anxious, irritable and/or cause headaches; not so helpful for focussing on studying or writing a paper. Try a latte to decrease the amount of caffeine in your day while still enjoying a warm beverage.
Glucose from carbohydrates provides the fuel your brain needs to energize you and help you reach your full potential. Whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables are the best sources of complex carbohydrates your body needs when you are studying. Tip – Indulge in a bowl of air popped popcorn if hunger strikes later on in the evening. Add onion, garlic or chilli powder for variety. Avoid the salt!
Breakfast is and will always be the most important meal of the day. Your ability to concentrate will increase dramatically if you start the day off with a good breakfast.
Tip -Combine 1 banana, 1/2 cup milk, 100g of yogurt and any berries you have in your fridge in a blender and mix at high speed for 1 minute. You can even make this the night before for breakfast on the go the next morning.
Laura Coxon is the Registered Dietitian in Health and Wellness and Kathryn Haworth is the Health Promotion Coordinator in Health and Wellness.