Nutrition Tips on Exam Day

nutritionSeeking to optimize your energy on the day of a big exam? Your nutritional choices can have a significant impact on  your focus and concentration as well as you overall physical energy. Below are some tips to consider when deciding on what food choices that will best boost your brain power:

  • Avoid foods that contain white flower such as cookies, cakes and muffins. They can overtax your digestive system and lower your energy in the process. In addition, foods high in refined sugar like candy and desserts can produce drastic energy highs and lows which can interfere with optimal energy levels and cause brain fog during the “low” periods.
  • While protein is a great energy booster, stay away from eating turkey right before an exam as it contains l-tryptophan, an amino acid that can lead to sleepiness. Instead, substitute chicken, fish, nuts and seeds or beef.  When consuming protein and carbohydrates together, eating a higher proportion of protein is a good way to sustain your energy and mental focus while too many carbohydrates can lead to drowsiness.
  •  When it comes to beverages, avoid sodas or juices with high amounts of sugar to prevent sugar swings which can de-stabilize your energy. Instead, opt for plenty of water to ensure sufficient hydration and limit your intake of caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea to prevent nervousness.
  • With regard to meals, plan several small meals throughout the day rather than a few larger meals. This will ensure that you are not overloading your digestive system in one sitting; smaller, more frequent meals are less work to process while having the added benefit of giving you frequent energy boosts throughout the day. Also, carry healthy snacks for break periods during the exam such as trail mix, granola bars, nuts and seeds to stabilize blood sugar and sustain your energy.
  • Get plenty of sleep and know when to put an end to your studying for the evening to avoid burnout and to let your mind relax. Set a goal for getting 7-8 hours sleep and create a timeline for when to end studying so that you will have enough time to get ready for the day ahead and allow time for a short walk, a chat with a friend, or listening to relaxing music or movie to ensure that your mind is clear and refreshed in time for exam day.

Most importantly, whether it is a month before an exam or a day before, be sure to engage in activities that keep you physically, socially and mentally balanced on a regular basis to ensure that you are maintaining good overall well being in the face of any academic or personal challenge that comes your way.

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