Dear Nutrition Nook,
Midterms are already here and I can barely concentrate on studying! Between classes and cramming, I need to be able to quickly grab a snack from the cafeteria. I am up late with work and get hungry then, too. I must do well on all my tests… or else! HELP!
What should I munch on during crunch time!?
Dear Munchin’ durin’ Crunchin’,
We’ve all been there. Late night cram sessions over Eden Wok, Z’s for three, and then a triple shot Venti in the morning. If you’re looking for A’s, you’d better stop in your tracks and turn around your eating habits, especially during exam time.
Firstly, if you find yourself in a time constraint, you should always remind yourself to slow down when making a food choice. Taking twenty more seconds to plan out a lunch could turn around your day. Whether it is spent attending classes or studying for exams, it can ultimately affect your performance academically. But when time is still tight, the cafeteria has so many alternatives to your favorite fast snack. Baked chips or light popcorn are a great way to satisfy that salty, crunchy craving without all the oil and calories. If you really need that ice cream, look for the mini cups of frozen Greek yogurt in the freezer. Also, brown rice sushi will add more fiber and whole grain to your lunch.
Next, rethink the late night snacking. Not only does eating late at night store the excess calories, but sugary and caffeinated snacks will keep you up later than you need to be. Most important to remember is to eat meals at set meal times, to avoid the (mental and physical) need for an unnecessary 12 a.m. Slurpee run. If you do need something to keep you going during those midnight study sessions, make sure to have nuts or multigrain pretzels on hand.
As for actual mealtime, there are foods that have been proven to increase focus and attentiveness which are needed most during test time. We’ve outlined many “super foods” guaranteed to help you succeed:
-Whole grains stimulate the brain due to the high percentage of folates and B6, which increase the blood flow that the brain requires.
-All types of nuts and seeds are high in iron, which allow you to think clearly. They also contain essential fatty acids that encourage optimum brain performance. Specifically, cashews can improve brain function because they contain magnesium which opens blood vessels and flow. Choline, which helps with memory and brain development, can be found in pecans and peanuts. Almonds, rich in riboflavin, also aid in the memory department.
-Berries and deep-pigmented fruits and vegetables jumpstart brain machinery and potency for neuron signals and enable proteins that are linked to memory and cognitive skills. Studies show that students who ate blueberries displayed better classroom performance.
-Legumes, like chickpeas and kidney beans, have lots of protein for brain power needed for studying. They are highly concentrated with folic acid which boosts information recall.
-While not usually a favorite, spinach helps with memory loss because of its folic acid as well.
-On a tastier note, dark chocolate improves memory and increases alertness and clarity!
-Apples, commonly associated with academics, are great for memory function due to quercetin, a flavanoid antioxidant.
-Green tea, a great substitute for lattes, fights memory fatigue and can provide mental relaxation, while the caffeine and antioxidants will energize you and put you in a better mood when you need it most.
-Make sure to throw some avocado, tomatoes and broccoli into your lunch salad as they all are just all-around great vegetables for excellence in learning.
-Yogurt and other products with calcium progress nerve function because tyrosine, a neurotransmitter, produces dopamine and noradrenalin, facilitating alertness and memory recollection.
Of course, a normative, regular sleep schedule will keep your meal times intact, but obviously it is also the best remedy for staying awake and staying focused. And of course, don’t skip your exercise regimen and load up on H2O!
Best of luck, go ace ‘em,