Tuesday, May 15 2012
Ladies and gentlemen, the time has come… IT’S EXAM TIME! Time to dust off your desk, top up the coffee pot and hunker down for a period of intense studying.
In between revisiting lecture slides and furiously churning out revision notes, you might not think food is entirely necessary. Some of you might forgo meals in place of studying, others might resort to that chocolate bar at the bottom of your pen drawer for a brain boost at a critical revision point. I mean, your brain needs food, right? It’s not important what you eat, it’s just important that you keep studying.
SWOTVAC is the time your brain needs food the most! If you want to make the most out of your break, you have to make the most of your body, and to do that you need to eat the right foods to keep that grey matter running. How do you expect your body to cope with such arduous mental exercise on minimal sustenance when you can barely go a day at uni without your afternoon sandwich?
Here are some strategies to make the most out of your SWOTVAC noms:
1. Don’t eat while studying. No matter how good your multitasking skills are, you are still more likely to be distracted by food when you should be studying. Likewise, you might be more focused on studying when you should be focusing on what you eat—you open a bag of chips vowing to eat only a few, then half an hour and one essay later the entire packet is empty. Be mindful of your studies AND your eating.
2. Avoid junk food and go easy on the caffeine. Although both of these give us a quick release of energy that can be useful, they also cause us to crash soon after, which is obviously not helpful for concentration. Not only that, but if you do it often enough your brain will begin to associate studying with this energy high, meaning you won’t be able to study without a ‘fix’, which can leave you with a short attention span and a snacking habit. Better to include lots of low GI, slow energy release foods such as starchy vegetables (sweet potato, pumpkin and potatoes) and high protein foods (lean meat, low-fat dairy, legumes and fish).
3. Get plenty of omega-3. Countless studies have shown that this particular fatty acid increases brain matter. The best way to get this is to eat fish like salmon, tuna, trout or sardines. If you don’t like eating fish, consider fish oil tablets. You can also find this in fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, olive oil and garlic.
4. Eat lots of berries. They are choc-a-bloc with antioxidants and are considered the ultimate study food. Blueberries are particularly good for you, and recently goji berries and cranberries have taken a close second. Chuck a handful in your cereal every morning or just snack on a handful at lunch.
5. Eat breakfast. During SWOTVAC I bet most of you are home every morning—you have no excuse not to! Breakfast is important because it gives your brain a kick-start after eight hours without food the night before. If you’re not a morning person, then better late than never! (Or, in this case, early!)
6. Drink wine. ‘Huh?’, you might be saying. Well, it had long been asserted that wine, red wine in particular, is high in antioxidants and is therefore good for you in moderation. But did you know that studies have also shown that alcohol aids consolidation of information retained immediately prior to drinking it? So if you feel like relaxing after a hard day’s study with a glass of red, get to it! The key word here is moderation. Obviously, drinking WHILE studying is not a good idea, and getting hammered after working is going to give you a hangover, not super brain powers.