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What should you eat during the examination season?

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Allison Candy, our Food Preparation and Nutrition Subject Officer, offers top tips to a diet that will keep you focused and energised.

We realise that planning your meals may be the last thing on your mind at the moment, but it is important to feed your body the necessary nutrients so you are ready to face your exams. Whilst the occasional treat such as chocolate is a good motivator to keep revising, you should ensure you have a balanced diet.

Starting your day off well
What should you eat to start your day off right?

Slow release carbohydrates are best for your pre exam breakfast, think porridge, whole grain bread or muesli. If you add a protein then you'll feel fuller for longer so go for milk, eggs or yoghurt - you can always add some flavour with berries and nuts.

Stay hydrated - from the start
As you know, drinking water is highly beneficial. Start your day with a large glass of water!

Maintaining your energy levels
Ideally, we all need our five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, but what else can give you the boost of energy you need during the exam season?

Peanut butter may be high in calories – but in this case, that's a good thing! It's packed with healthy fats and is high in protein - put some on wholemeal toast and you're good to go. If you don't like peanuts, there are a range of other natural nut butters available.

Marmite for many might be a no, but yes, marmite is one of the best food sources of thiamine (vitamin B1) and pyridoxine (vitamin B6). Both of these play a role in neurotransmitter production, which strengthens memory and cognition. If you struggle with the thought, just think of it as brain food.

Try and avoid processed food - these contain high levels of salt, sugar and bad fats! These aren't good for your energy levels or for your body in general.

Treat yourself
Saving the best until last - dark chocolate. Studies have found that chocolate can reduce your blood pressure and keep your brain alert and focused due to the polyphenols in cocoa that increases blood flow to the brain. Try and eat chocolate with 100% cocoa, and avoid highly processed chocolate as these include high levels of sugar, which can have a detrimental effect on your energy levels.

So in short, what should you eat?
Here are four tips for eating and drinking during exam time.

  1. Eat smaller, frequent meals
  2. Have a good, wholesome breakfast
  3. Water is your friend
  4. Avoid processed foods

Good luck!