Sunday, May 24, 2015

EXAM TIME


I don't miss those days stuck in my room revising


We’re in the midst of student examination season, and I have previously been asked to offer some nutrition tips for students to aid concentration; I thought I would share them here on the blog because they’re not only applicable to students, they apply to everyone who wants to perform to the best of their ability in whatever they do. Healthy eating habits and good nutrition can have a positive impact on concentration. Take a read if you're interested, otherwise you can wait for the next recipe or personal style post!


A Balanced Diet - Aim for a balanced, varied diet that incorporates all the food groups (proteins, carbohydrates, fats and fruit and vegetables); an eating regime that is balanced and varied will minimise your risk of nutritional deficiency and ensure your body and brain get all the nutrients they need. There is a lot of hype surrounding ‘diets’ based around low carbohydrate and zero fat, but a restrictive diet is the last thing you want to embark on when you are trying to concentrate - your memory, attention and brain function is likely to suffer.
Glucose - Your ability to concentrate is down to your brain having an adequate supply of energy. This energy comes in the form of glucose and if we don’t have enough glucose in the blood, we can begin to feel weak, tired and fuzzy-minded; glucose is the brain’s primary source of fuel. Despite what the media and celebrities say, you should avoid eliminating carbohydrates from your diet, they are not the enemy. Carbohydrates are broken down in to glucose and its utilisation by the brain ensures you maintain good concentration and focus. However, this is not a licence to eat lots of sweets and copious amounts of carbohydrates.  In fact, although sweets and chocolate provide a quick release of energy, and you have probably experienced this sort of energy burst after a Snickers bar or pack of Haribos, the effect is short-lived and you can end up feeling relatively lethargic soon after. It is much better to opt for complex carbohydrates (e.g. pasta, porridge, wholemeal bread).

Caffeine - Similar to sugar, caffeine is often used as a stimulant during exam time. I don’t like coffee but I remember in my first year of university (despite studying Nutrition), I’d sit on my bed revising whilst popping those caffeine-containing pills from my local chemist and slugging back energy drinks. I only had to take them for two days to realise I’d be putting the rest in the bin. Although, like sugar, caffeine can energise the fatigued and make you feel more alert, in some cases, the effect of caffeine can make you feel jittery and uncomfortable and disturb sleeping patterns, which is the effect it had on me – not a great feeling when you are studying/working! My advice is not necessarily to cut out the coffee if you are an existing coffee-drinker but instead limit it to one or two cups a day. Dehydration can impair your concentration, so I’d suggest always having a glass or bottle of sugar-free fluid beside you to sip on regularly.

Healthy Fats - Did you know a large proportion of our brain is made of fat; it therefore stands to reason that we shouldn’t eliminate all fats from our diet. Including oily fish such as salmon, trout, pilchards, fresh tuna and mackerel will help to boost your omega-3 fat intake which is a healthy fat essential for good brain health.

Breakfast - One-third of us regularly miss this meal because of habit or time pressures, but skipping breakfast can have a negative effect on concentration. Breakfast is an opportune time for a nutrition boost following a 7-8 hour fast (whilst your sleeping) and is likely to give you the physical and mental energy you need for your day of revision/work.

Snacking - Don’t be afraid to snack in between meals to keep your energy levels ticking over until the next planned meal, but be careful about the type and amount of snacks you go for and how often. I tended to have a snack between breakfast and lunch and lunch and dinner. Healthy snack options include nuts, low fat yoghurts, oatcakes with a low fat topping such as cottage cheese and of course fruit.

Lifestyle
Finally, I can’t talk about nutrition without talking about lifestyle; they both complement each other. Here are my top lifestyle tips:
§  Get enough sleep so you feel refreshed and revitalised the next day – aim for approximately 7 hours a night
§  Your free time may be more restricted as you approach the exam period, but do allocate some time to being active. You don’t necessarily have to join a gym or take up a sport, a half hour walk around the local area will do wonders for your energy levels and mental performance
§  Try to stay calm and positive while studying: remind yourself why you are doing this – what is the light at the end of the tunnel; draw up a revision plan/schedule so that you are not left having to cram in all your revision towards the end; aim for a work-life balance, don’t abandon your social life, although you may need to curb it somewhat.

Good luck 

Later x

17 comments:

  1. Dear Colleen, hopefully many students are reading this helpful post from you and I think it is wise and good that you shared your knowledge. I agree in each of the points you mentioned especially as I know that the importance of food and lifestyle is often underestimated especially during such stressful phases in life like exam-times. Hope you are well and you enjoyed your weekend!
    xx from Germany/Bavaria, Rena
    www.dressedwithsoul.com

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    1. You're quite right, food and lifestyle can take second priority during stressful times. Thanks Rena x

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  2. Morning Colleen! These are all perfect and great tips that Im sure all the students will enjoy. To be honest, wish I had read them when I was studying too..I think I had not such good healthy habits, especially on eating when I was at uni!:P Totally different now that I really love to have. I should sleep more but suffer of insomnia so for me 7 hours of a good sleep are dream! Now I also have another excure to drink more coffee too!:P Happy Monday Colleen and hope u have a wonderful week! xo

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    1. Ohhh noo I'm sorry to hear about the insomnia Lilli. I hope it's not too debilitating. Hope you have a good week x

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  3. so hang on - are you saying all that pro plus i took cramming for exams wasn't good for me! hehe I really shoudl ahve taken some omega 3 oils but just didn't think plus i had the arrogance of youth!! hope you enjoying your long weekend though xx

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    1. That's exactly what I took - those pro-plus eeeww - they made me feel so on edge, and I didn't follow all of the above tips either despite studying Nutrition tut tut. If only I could have a chat with my younger self now! x

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  4. Hi, dear Colleen! Your tips are amazing and that picture on the wall too - being kind, it's good to the ones who are kind and the ones who receive kindness! I so much needs these tips! Actually I have improved, concentration is Ok, and nourishing... a bit! I stay calm and sleep well, I suppose it has to do with that! I also snack, though maybe not so healthy. I love pasta and avocado :) I always have breakfast, but I don't drink coffee. But as I said, I think I am improving and to be honest, your blog has some responsibility! I know I am nearly hopeless, but I am really trying to eat in a healthier way!
    DenisesPlanet.com

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    1. aaah that's not my bedroom, but it is a great picture, right? Two of my favourite foods: pasta ad avocado! Good luck with the healthy eating goals Denise!

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  5. Great Post dear Colleen. My daughter is ready with her study time since a year. She had study in another city, so i had no control over her eating routine. But i´m sure it was not healthy enough. And btw i gave her the "bad graving gene" so she really like chocolate. But now my daughter stays with two feet in her job and is a little bit more relaxed. She takes care about healthy food more and more.
    Thank your for all theses tips. They are very interesting for me too.
    Wish you a fantastic week

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    1. Thank you Cla, at least she's more health-focused now. I certainly wasn't the best at university when I lived away from home despite studying Nutrition!

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  6. WOW.. Colleen.. I didn't see your upgraded web.. it's amazing~!!!! as usual your posts are full of important and useful tips.. love to read them and gonna try the breakfast thing.. I don't eat in the mornings and all my meals are a big mess!

    love the photo as well.. such a cozy nice room to study in!!!

    have a great week,

    kisses,

    http://rosdays.blogspot.co.il/

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  7. WOW! Thanks for sharing this post I really remember my exam. I was very excited to give exam at my school time.
    Thanks for Sharing
    Where Can I Buy a Good Research Paper Online

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  8. Hi Colleen, Your tips are so different from the usual tips that borders to the healthy side. In fact, it is so easy to follow! Everyone would be happy snacking!

    Jo
    Jo's Jumbled Jardinière

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  9. These are all great tips for health and well-being but particularly for students at this time of year. I'm also glad that my days of revising and pre-exam nerves are well and truly in the distant past! I remember how much better I performed after a good night's sleep though and you can't underestimate the importance of eating well especially at stressful times. I'm way behind with my blogging but I'm enjoying following along with you on Instagram!

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  10. Really nice tips, I am a student of Master, I take note :)
    kisses

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  11. I am having my finals soon as well. Good look to us! :)

    Would you like to follow each other on GFC? Follow me and let me know and I will follow you back sweetheart! ❤ Waiting for your reply.
    Love always,
    monikaozdoba.blogspot.com

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  12. What an interesting post about "Exam Time"
    I enjoyed at all my exam but when the result gonna to come at that time I tense
    Thanks for sharing
    Cheap Assignment Writing Help Service

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Hey....I'd love to see your comments, and given one of my pastimes is reading other people's blogs, I'd love for you to leave your URL if you have one too. Later xx