The exam season is around the corner and students can already feel the nerves jangling and the stress setting in. One of the flipsides of exams is that our normally healthy diet goes for a toss and we end up eating a lot of unhealthy snacks with no nutritious value.
During the dreaded exam season, everyone struggles to find time to eat, study, sleep and even squeeze in a few moments for a break. After the exams, we look at ourselves and realize how much weight we put on. Here are simple dietary tips that will help you avoid the ‘exam weight’ and also boost your brain power with food.
Start with a glass of water
Start the day early. Have a glass of water on waking up. This will hydrate you and keep you refreshed. Drinking water ‘switches on’ your brain and your body to start the day afresh. It is also a nice, gentle way to ease your digestive system into the rest of the day. Water is the best way to prevent and chase away fatigue – be it physical or mental.
Grab a fruit
The very next thing to eat in your day is a fruit. They are high in fiber and contain natural sugar. This way, they provide consistent energy over a long period of time. Take a banana for instance. It stimulates the release of certain neurochemicals which not only boost the mood but also makes you more alert and improves your concentration levels. Fruits, in general, contain negligible fat and are great energy suppliers over a long period of time. Dried fruits are also great and can be carried around as a great on-the-go snack.
Drink lots of fluids
In between, keep yourself revived with a drink of nimbu paani and rock salt. You could also have coconut water which due to its high potassium and mineral content replenishes your mineral levels. Both these will keep you refreshed and energized over a long period of time.
Switch to ‘healthy’ caffeine
Those wishing for a caffeine kick, switch to herbal tea or green tea – both are rich in nutrients and antioxidants. While caffeine does help improve concentration, the effect usually doesn’t last long. Caffeine drinks and even, to a certain degree, coffee, do more harm than good as they have excessive caffeine content. It causes the nerve cell to raise the level of stress hormone and makes one anxious, scared, angry or nervous and increases palpitations and increases your blood pressure.
During meal times, remember to have at least one leafy vegetable daily. They contain iron, protein, fiber and calcium. All of these are essential for the brain function. B complex vitamins are also essential for the brain’s health.
Eat a variety of grains
Also, eat a variety of whole grains. Have bajra roti in one meal, and have nachani roti in the next. Alternatives like barley, whole wheat, and even basmati rice can be used. Whole grains also sustain you with steady energy over a long period of time. Protein foods enhance the brain’s production of dopamine, a natural brain chemical that helps one to feel alert. Therefore, it’s vital to have a pulse, beans, sprouts or even the occasional oily fish with your meals.
Quit gum and eat some dry fruits
Skip the chewing gum as a mouth freshener and opt for something more traditional. Chew on a mix of sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds and sunflower seeds. You will be feeding yourself a mix of various fats, as well as proteins. On a similar note, an excellent snack option is nuts. Cashew nuts contain zinc, whereas the omega 3 in walnuts and flax seeds is essential for the brain. Your brain is composed mainly of fat. Therefore, by eating a mix of all these fats, you will be literally feeding your brain and boost its power while improving its functioning.
Foods to avoid
There are foods which are to be avoided as well. White flour and white sugar are both atrocious for the brain and the entire body. They result in drowsiness because Vitamin B the energy-giving vitamin is leeched from the body. Unfortunately, people land up eating more of these foods thinking they will get energy but they end up getting a sugar low which leaves them drained, depressed, tired and fatigued.
Lastly get proper sleep
It’s also important to get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can result in poorer language ability and also decreases your attention levels. Sleep early because every hour of sleep before midnight equals two hours of sleep after. This will make your sure your memory and concentration levels are fired up in the morning. Basically, make a schedule. Include your study timings, your sleep timings, and your food timings. This way, you will know beforehand what you’re going to do with your day. Regulating your food habits and making sure you stick by it will reduce stress and help you ace the exams!