Tips: Healthy Eating for Exam Success

by David Egan on June 8, 2011

Teenager studyingRevision periods and exams are a stressful time when your young adult’s body needs to be treated with extra care.  You can’t expect their body and brain to function properly if they have spent weeks drinking coffee, eating chocolate bars and staying up all night cramming. Good nutrition is essential if you want them to perform at their best. Below are some simple guidelines to help them feel good and get the most from their studies.

Breakfast

Make sure your kids eat a healthy breakfast every day and don’t skip breakfast on exam days.  Skipping breakfast will leave them feeling light-headed and unable to concentrate. Avoid high sugar cereals (anything with more than 10g sugar per 100g). Instead, go for:

  • Porridge – probably the best high performance breakfast – try adding some nuts, seeds, dried fruit and sweeten with honey or sugar
  • Weetabix or Shredded Wheat – these are high in fibre and relatively low in added sugar & salt
  • Wholemeal toast – with jam/marmalade or a boiled/poached egg

Eating a healthy breakfast will keep your kids feeling full for longer, which will improve their concentration during the day.

Snacks

Happy healthy girlThe best things to snack on whilst revising are fruits, nuts and seeds. Try offering your child some home made smoothies if they are reluctant fruit eaters. Eating junk food and drinking fizzy drinks just leaves the body feeling sluggish and tired. Keep your fruit bowl well stocked and avoid buying sweets, cakes, crisps and fizzy drinks.

Main Meals

Try to avoid serving big heavy meals. Instead of 3 large meals per day, try offering 5 mini-meals. Include a portion of protein in the main meal (e.g. fish,chicken or lean meat). Meals should include complex carbohydrates – like wholemeal bread, potatoes, pasta or rice. This will provide the energy  needed for study.

Increase the amount of vegetables you put on the plate and try offering salads as a starter or side dish. Encourage your child to eat fruit for desserts – see our recipe for fruit salad. Don’t let them skip meals to cram. Eating regularly is important, and it’s almost impossible concentrate when your stomach is rumbling.

Hydration

Make sure your kids stay hydrated. Dehydration affects the brain, and your young adult will not be at their best if they are dehydrated. Mild dehydration is relatively common, even in winter. The best way to stay hydrated is to drink water. Encourage your child to keep a bottle to hand and sip frequently.

Students should steer clear of fizzy drinks and energy drinks as they are full of sugar or artificial sweeteners. It is also good to limit the intake of tea and coffee as they contain caffeine, which can interfere with sleep. Caffeine can affect a person up to 6 hours after drinking it, so avoid tea and coffee in the late afternoon and evening. If kids crave a hot drink try offering herbal teas – there are plenty to choose from and they are available in most supermarkets.

Eat Well, Perform Well!

The key to good nutrition for exams is simple – eat lots of fruit and veg, drink plenty of water and minimise intake of processed junk. If you stick to these guidelines, your child will be a prime position for success!

How do you ensure that your child sticks to a healthy diet during exam time? How do you keep them away from energy drinks and chocolate bars? We would all like to hear your views please share them in the comments box below.

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