It's almost exam day. You've put in hours of revision, and studied as much as you can to prepare your mind for the big day. But, what is often overlooked, is that before a mentally challenging event, such as a test or an exam, it's also important to be physically prepared. Think of all those Zen philosophies about Yin and Yang, about how balance and equilibrium are essential to help us center and focus. Well, it's the same with you when you're getting ready for a test or an exam â€“ don't just focus on the study.
I'm not suggesting you go out and run a marathon before the test (although exercise has many proven benefits when it comes to improving our minds and memory and getting us prepared for such events).
What we're talking about here is the importance of nutrition. What we eat and drink can help boost concentration, improve memory function, give us a clear head to think straight and perform at our best.
Athletes believe in the benefits of great nutrition, and just before your test or exam, you need to believe too.
You need to plan carefully, and boost your chances of exam success. Here are some of the foods to eat before a big test:
Bananas: Eat a banana just before the exam. Full of nutrients and packed full with potassium, which are important for good nerve and muscle function. Bananas release their energy slowly, giving you an energy boost that should last for the duration of the exam.
A bowl of oat porridge has a low GI (Glyceamic Index), meaning rather than an insulin (blood sugar) peak and trough, it will keep you alert and nourished through the exam.
Eggs and wholewheat bread or toast are a great mix of protein and low GI carbs, and can help keep your energy levels raised and your insulin levels on a plateau.
A tuna sandwich on wholewheat bread delivers protein and low GI carbs to keep you going, and we all know that fish is a great brain food!
A handful of nuts gives you protein and essential fatty acids and oils to lubricate your mind. Or consider peanut butter on wholegrain toast.
Berries, such as Acai Berries, are considered 'superfoods', so try and eat a small handful before you go into the exam. Acai berries are proven to help benefit the mind, and deliver a whole lot of other health benefits too.
Drink lots of water before and during the test to keep your brain well hydrated.
When planning your meal, it's important to not overdo it. Choose something that's not too heavy, and don't eat too much, as this will slow you down and make you more likely to feel sleepy.
Here are the things to avoid:
Complex carbohydrates such as white bread or pasta â€“ these help you to sleep, so avoid them!
White sugar â€“ refined sugar gives you an instant boost, but it doesn't last and does you no good â€“ so skip the soda â€“ even the diet soda.
Caffeine â€“ try to swap out your mug of Joe for green tea (packed with antioxidants) or plain water.
Energy drinks â€“ these will give you an initial boost, but you'll come crashing down after not too long, so they are best avoided.