Exam time is that time of the year when you either binge eat or starve your poor body. The exam stress wrecks your body and weakens your immune system. Therefore, the last you want, is to get sick during the mighty exams. Don’t let your whole semester’s hard work and attendance become the victim of flu, cold or food poisoning. Eat right and stay healthy this exam season. For some food advice, read on!
1. Caffeine: Boon or Bane
Believe it or not, glugging down cups of coffee/tea/colas is not good for you. It will not only mess up your sleep cycle, in addition, it would dehydrate your body and make your feel jittery all the while. 2/2.5 cups (500 to 625 ml) of coffee/tea is ‘okay’ for you. More than this and it will start messing up with your brain and concentration level. You won’t get proper sleep and you’ll feel tired, hence, needing the momentary high of caffeine again which will not last long. Though, its side-effects would be long-lasting. So, it’s boon if consumed in small amount but a bane otherwise! Better alternatives are water, fruit juices, milk or buttermilk, and anti-oxidant-rich green tea.
2. Meal plan
The big question: 3 heavy meals or small meals at short intervals?
Go for small meals at short intervals. Large meals keep on turning in your stomach for a longer time and also, all the blood is redirected to your stomach instead of your brain. Hence, making you feel sleepy and lethargic. Small nutritious meals will curb your craving for empty-calorie snacks and help in keeping your nutrition and energy level more stable. But, guys don’t binge-eat on the name of meals at short intervals.
Breakfast dilemma: don’t forget the importance of breakfast ever, especially during exams. You should always have a good and healthy breakfast to kick-start your day. It could include scrambled eggs, sprouts, idlis, oats, muesli, khichdi or wheat flakes. Eat things that have low glycemic index which provide a constant and steady supply of glucose. It is the most important meal of the day and not eating it on the exam is downright criminal. Your mind would not work with 100% efficiency and you’ll definitely screw that calculation or equation!
3. The comfort food/beverages
Don’t be seduced by the irresistible energy drinks, chips, chocolates, cookies, etc. Don’t give in the temptation of eating them when your stress levels rise. This kind of processed food and sugar laden stuff surely makes your taste buds happy and momentarily spikes your blood sugar levels, making you feel euphoric. But, after a short while your stomach will feel empty again and you’ll have the craving to eat more junk food. Ta-da…the binge-eating starts. This high-fat, high-sugar sugar is just going to give you extra useless calories.
Moreover, avoid alcoholic beverages or anything that contains alcohol. Do I need to tell you why? Okay, I’ll tell you…as a depressant it will promote sleepiness and distract you from studying. However, if you really thing that alcohol is the perfect antidote for exam stress then, you’ll be surprised to find out that you’ll be needing a lot of it for the post exam-stress too. Writing an exam with a hangover, good luck with that!
Yes, you need to be well hydrated for healthy functioning of your mind and body. Because of winters, you may not feel that much thirsty but dehydration is the main reason of fatigue. When dehydrated, your body and mind will be dazed and restless, resulting in poor concentration levels. If you don’t like water, then try fruit smoothies, milkshakes or green tea. Coffee, tea or aerated drinks can cause acidity and heart burn so, just avoid them!
5. Vitamin, mineral and protein intake
Proteins: a diet rich in proteins includes, eggs, poha, idlis, dosa or dhokla, increases tyrosine (an amino acid) levels in the blood and brain which help nerve cells manufacture chemicals which keep you alert and active. Also, proteins provide the much-needed slow burn giving a constant source of energy, unlike, carbohydrates which are digested quickly.
Vitamins and Minerals: to fight exam stress the body requires certain water-soluble vitamins like Vitamin B complex and C, minerals like zinc. These help in the synthesis and functioning of adrenal hormones that are stress-fighting hormones. Also, anti-oxidants like Vitamins A, C and E reduce damage to brain cells due to increased stress by fighting the free radicals. Eggs, fish, carrots, pumpkins, green leafy vegetables, green tea, fresh fruits, brown rice, and nuts will help meet this requirement. They also help to increase the body’s immunity, thus, reducing the chances of falling sick during exams.
Dietary supplements: yeah, intake of dietary supplements is good but real food is always better. When you eat orange, it just doesn’t contain Vitamin C but also beta-carotene, fiber and other minerals – therefore, it can’t be replaced by a pill. And also, never indulge in those memory increasing pills. Believe me, unless it’s NZT (the pill that gives you infinite IQ from the movie and TV show, Limitless), don’t take it!
Eat healthy and best of luck for exams!
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