Eating healthy during exams (well, and any time, really) will help to increase and maintain your energy level, sharpen your focus, and improve your mood! Here are 5 tips to help you eat and stay healthier during exam time.
1. Eat a healthy breakfast
You’ve heard it said countless times but it’s absolutely true: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
A good breakfast fuels the body with the energy needed to improve concentration and boost your problem-solving ability throughout the day. It also starts your day in a positive way. Here are my personal favourite healthy breakfast meals that you can find in Dal’s dining halls or make yourself:
- Oatmeal topped with flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and any fruit
- Yogurt topped with oats, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and any fruit
- Whole grain toast topped with Wow Butter or peanut butter and banana
- Whole grain toast topped with boiled eggs with an apple
- Bran flakes with milk, scrambled eggs and honey dew
2. Get your omega-3!
Fish really is “smart food.” The omega-3 contained in fish may play a vital role in enhancing memory.
In addition, omega-3 fatty acids are heart healthy, decrease inflammation, help with depression and anxiety, and may even may help in the prevention of dementia including Alzheimer’s. They are an “essential” fatty acid, meaning that they are needed for health but our bodies cannot make them. Instead we must consume omega-3 through food or supplements. There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids:
- EPA & DHA – found in cold water fish such as salmon and mackerel
- ALA – found in flaxseeds, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, canola oil, and walnuts
Great sources of omega-3:
- Seafood: salmon, pollock, cod, shrimp, and canned tuna
- Veggies: edamame, ground flax seed, pumpkin seeds, winter squash, soy beverage, almond beverage, canola oil, olive oil, cooked beans, tofu, veggie burgers
3. Watch your caffeine intake
While caffeine may give a short boost, the energy drop will leave you lethargic, drained, and ready for a nap.
How much caffeine is too much? Health Canada recommends no mare than 400mg of caffeine per day—equal to approximately three 8-oz cups of coffee. Tea contains about half the amount of caffeine than coffee. Instead, stay hydrated with water and herbal teas.
If you feel you need a pick-me-up, try getting some fresh air, exercise, have a healthy snack or meal, or take a quick nap. Check out the fitness programs at the Dalplex, or in Truro at the Langille Centre, for ways to stay active.
4. Eat complete meals
This will ensure you’re content and not distracted by hunger. A balanced plate consists of filling half your plate with vegetables: a quarter with whole grains and a quarter with a lean protein. Simply put, a healthy balanced meal should contain at least three of the four food groups with a large focus on vegetables.
By balancing your meals, you receive a variety of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, without having to measure and count servings. Think about balancing your plate before you arrive in the dining hall, rather than going in hungry and filling up your plate!
5. Keep healthy snacks in your room
Keeping healthy snacks on hand provides a great alternative to midnight chips and candy. Snacks should contain at least two of the four food groups.
Need ideas? Try carrot sticks and hummus; apple and Greek yogurt or cheese; whole grain crackers and cheese; a yogurt and granola parfait; cottage cheese and cucumbers; or salad with seeds, to name a few!
If you’re in Halifax, you can use your DalCard to buy these and other healthy goodies at select local grocery stores. Try the local farmers’ markets or really any decent grocery store—just don’t buy all your groceries at the convenience store!