Exam time is almost here: late-night study sessions, lack of sleep, cramming for finals – with so much going on, it can be hard to prioritize healthy habits. But keeping a healthy lifestyle in stressful times can help you stay focused and do your best. Here are 4 nutrition tips to help you keep a healthy lifestyle during exams.

You may have the urge to skip meals to finish studying one more chapter, but ignoring hunger cues can set you back!

Your brain needs glucose! Not the quick sugar from candy or pop that will peak and drop your blood sugar, making you feel tired and craving more sugar. Complex carbohydrates break down more slowly, to help you focus without feeling hungry often.

How to do it? Just follow the plate method of eating:

½ plate full of vegetables, ¼ plate carbohydrates, and ¼ plate protein.

Some foods to keep you full and focused:

  • Carbohydrates:
    • Whole grains: whole-grain bread, brown rice, quinoa, bulgur, oats.
    • Starchy vegetables: eg. sweet potatoes, squash, and pumpkin.
  • Proteins:
    • Lean meats (meats with low-fat content) such as chicken, turkey, fish, tuna, and lean red meat.
    • Legumes: lentils, beans, soy: edamame, tofu, tempeh
    • Nuts and seeds
  • Vegetables: all types and colours (choose more of the non-starchy vegetables)

When stressed or anxious you may crave sweet or salty foods like chips, candy, or cookies.  These convenience foods aren’t only empty calories, they will also have you feeling hungry again soon. Plan snack or meal breaks every 4-5 hours to keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable.

For energy that lasts, eat snacks that include fibre like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Combine them with protein foods like nut/seed butter, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, or bean dip to keep you fuller, longer.

Caffeine from coffee, tea, pop or energy drinks can give you a short energy boost but too much can leave you feeling jittery, anxious and disturb your sleep.

Try to limit how much you drink. Choose water, sparkling water, herbal teas, or decaffeinated coffee more often.

You want to get enough rest before an exam. Sleep is more important than that an all nighter! Drinking caffeine late in the day can stop you from getting the sleep you need!

When focused on studying, you can forget to drink enough water. Pay attention to your thirst to stay hydrated. Dehydration can make you feel light-headed, dizzy or unfocused. Try carrying a reusable water bottle as a reminder to drink enough water.  You’ll likely want to refill a 0.5L bottle 3 times a day but listen to your body to know when to drink.

Water is the best way to hydrate, but if you struggle to get enough plain water, try these tips out:

  • Infused Water: add fresh cut fruit, vegetables, or herbs. Try cucumber, oranges, lemon, or mint leaves.
  • Herbal Iced Tea: try pure, unsweetened herbal or decaf iced tea flavoured with lemon, oranges or grapefruit
  • Fruits and Veggies: some fruits and veggies are packed with water and can help you increase your fluid intake. These include melons, cucumbers, citrus fruits, celery. They’re also high in fiber to keep you feeling full!

Sunday, July 23, 2023 in
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