Our experience has shown us that more successful outcomes are achieved by people who prepare properly, for exams and other challenges– this includes a mindful diet and exercise programme that must be intentionally scheduled.
Associate Professor Tim Crowe’s gives us some diet tips for successful study and for life:
Some of you will wake up early and get started on just a cup of coffee that you think keeps you going for a few hours. That may well be so – but your body will suffer afterwards as well as your brain! Your brain is your thinking-doing-seeing-hearing-understanding organ – feed it before you use it!!
Do not skip breakfast! It is really the most important meal as it fuels both your body and mind well into the day. We do understand that healthy food may be pricey, but shop wisely and try and include fruit with natural sugars in your breakfast. These sugars give more sustained energy than jelly beans.
Sweet potatoes are one of the low GI (glycaemic index if you are interested!) foods that sustain your energy for longer – real brain food. Cook some for the week and eat for breakfast.
What else is important diet wise – that students don’t pay enough attention to? Water is the best drink! The important thing is to remain hydrated – dehydration is something you do not notice happening but will give you a major energy slump. Set a reminder to have a glass of water every hour, and keep water on your desk. If you need motivation to drink it – drop in lemon slices. We ‘eat with our eyes’ as they say!
When preparing for an exam, go for protein foods over carbohydrate foods as they can help keep your mind more alert. Fish really is brain food so eat a few servings each week.
- Colour is nature’s guide to food variety, especially for fruit and vegetables. The more natural colours in the foods you eat the more nutrient variety you are getting.
- Smart snacking will make you less likely to binge. Eat something nutritious, including a fruit or vegetable.
- Go for grains, they are the fuel to power you through your day and provide nutrients and fibre. Choose brown bread or health bread rather than white.
- Bone up on calcium. For healthy bones that you will take well into later life, aim for three servings of dairy, green leafy vegetables or canned fish with bones each day.
- Five vegetables, two fruit: too easy!
- Enjoy tea: it’s healthier for you than coffee. And for those who don’t know, there can be more caffeine in a cup of tea than a cup of coffee. It will give you healthier energy and is less likely to dehydrate you.
What about getting your body moving? Why should we do it?
Professor Rod Snow’s exercise tips for study and life.
The most important advice from the research carried out in the past few years, is not new breakthrough drugs, but the simple fact that an hour of daily exercise may be the most important single factor to increase general wellbeing, prolong a healthy life, increase fitness and self-esteem, as well as helping you maintain strong bones and a healthy body weight.
Here are some more tips:
• Move more: walk, run, cycle, throw, catch and jump.
• Increase play: particularly outdoors. If you need your study break – meet your friends outside for 30 minutes of kicking a soccer ball, or a brisk walk.
• Take the stairs rather than the lift.
• Walk as much as you can. If you are stressed and don’t want to leave your house, leave the room and do 50 star jumps – trust me you will be breathless! You will get blood circulating to your brain, you will distract yourself from your work for a bit – when you get back to your desk you will be able to think more clearly.