Sunday, November 1, 2009

Eat On Exam Day

By Cristian Truers

Healthy eating is probably the last thing on the minds of the more than 200,000 school students preparing for exams this month. But according to Australia's leading nutrition organisation, eating the right food is one of the keys to exam success.

Clare Evangelista, Spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) said eating a balanced diet can help improve concentration.

'What we eat has a big impact on mental performance, so we need to give our brain the right fuel to help it perform at its peak. Eating energy bars, lollies and chocolates will give students a short-term spike in energy, but this doesn't last,' said Ms Evangelista, an Accredited Practising Dietitian.

Clare has these top five tips for improving energy and concentration levels on exam day:

Eat breakfast - Stick with familiar foods and serve sizes on the morning of an exam as this is not the time to try anything new. Breakfast provides your brain with carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Try: - A bowl of cereal with reduced-fat milk, topped with chopped fruit and a sprinkle of almonds - Wholegrain or wholemeal toast with reduced-fat cheese and tomato, and a small fruit juice.

Eat regularly throughout the day - Eating energy-sustaining foods at meals and snacks will help to fuel the brain, maintain energy levels, and avoid dips in concentration. Try: - Sandwich, roll or wrap filled with salad vegetables, reduced-fat cheese, lean meat or tinned tuna - Fruit smoothies made with reduced-fat milk and/or yoghurt - Fruit (fresh, tinned or dried) or fruit and nut snack packs - Crackers with tomato and reduced-fat cheese, toast and spreads, fruit bread, cereal with reduced-fat milk.

Drink plenty of water - This will hydrate your body, help reduce fatigue and help your brain work. If possible, take a water bottle in to the exam with you.

Limit excess caffeine - Limit coffee, caffeinated soft drinks or guarana-containing drinks. Caffeine can act as a mild stimulant, boosting alertness and staving off fatigue, but too much can make you feel nervous and restless, and may affect how well you sleep.

Exercise - Schedule in some physical activity before or in between exams. Exercise can help reduce stress, clear your mind and improve sleep patterns.

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