Not so, says Amy Hopkins, Food Editor at Women’s Health Magazine. What you eat can not only help you remember what you’re learning, but can also keep you focused for longer. “Junk food – highly salted carbs or very sugary food – will inevitably lead to crashes, which mean you’ll feel sluggish and tired and you won’t have the attention span you need for studying”.
But which foods are best to eat while studying?“Omega-3s are great for brain power!” says Hopkins. “So think of oily fish for lunch or dinner with broccoli on the side. Broccoli is packed with vitamin K, which studies have shown can help improve memory.”
Scheduled snacks throughout the day not only keep hunger pangs at bay but also get the metabolism revving, meaning that your energy levels stay high, physically and mentally, so you can get through the day without crashing. This doesn’t mean mindless snacking on chips and pretzels – so easy to do when our brains are occupied – but rather plan for a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack which should consist of things like “trail mix with flax seeds and pumpkin seeds for omega-3s, or nuts – another study found that women who ate nuts regularly had a sharper memory than those who did not,” advises Hopkins. And don’t forget to drink enough water. Keep a glass or bottle on your desk within arm’s reach at all times.
So which foods should you avoid?Caffeine and sugar: Contrary to popular belief, Hopkins advises against too much coffee. “Too much caffeine and sugar will definitely lead to crashes and lapses in concentration.”
Foods that are fatty, oily and sweet: “A rich lunch will leave you feeling heavy and tired as your body puts energy into digesting food instead of what you need, which is focus.“
Too much food for the same reasons above: Rather opt for a “light lunch with veggies, salad and protein.”
And what about the morning of the Big Exam?You’ve done all the mental prep, but what you eat for breakfast on the morning of the exam can make or break whether you nail it or not.
Hopkins advises to “have a good Low-GI breakfast with some protein. For example: a bowl of oats, with a banana and nut butter OR eggs on good-quality rye toast with some avocado. These breakfasts will help you feel satiated and give you enough energy to sustain you through the morning.”