April = the month that all college/uni kids dread (aka final exam season). I can say I was a big worry bug and stress eater during exams but learned a lot during my degree of ways I can (food-wise) cope with that stressful month. By popular request, I decided to write a last minute post on nutrition tips to help you through your last few exams!
1. Make your own meals and snacks
- Instead of choosing those tempting fast food meals, pack a balanced meal from home. This allows you to choose nutrient dense “brain food” instead of energy dense items that don’t fulfil your satiety for long and can make you feel lethargic rather than energized. It also helps save lots of dolla-bills since fast food meals can have a big impact on your wallet this month.
- Pack snacks on the weekend so you have quick and ready snacks to grab on the go. Vending machine snacks tend to be very high in fat (including saturated and trans fats), sodium, and sugar.
2. But if you do choose fast food, here’s a few tips!
- Don’t upsize your meal – it may cost a slight bit more but will add a HUGE amount of unnecessary calories to your waistline. If you want a treat, don’t go too hard!
- Go for the options where you can design what you eat (sandwiches, salad, customized pizzas, stir frys, etc). This gives you the power to control what’s going into your meal and being in the know of what’s going into your tummy.
- Watch out for those add-ons including dressings, toppings and sauces. They can add a ton of calories without making a huge impact on the taste factor.
3. Avoid sugary foods and drinks.
- That chocolate bar or soft drink may add a super fast boost to your energy levels but this usually doesn’t last long – you’ll likely be experience a low in your energy levels in no time. Choose a fruit/vegetable as a snack or drink some water to keep yourself hydrated. That being said, a treat every now and then is allowed – you’re a stressed student after all! Just follow the 80/20 rule!
4. Take your time eating.
- Don’t rush when you eat. You deserve your break! Eating with company (like your fellow colleagues or your family) can help jump start your morale and be a much needed support system full of positive energy and encouragement!
5. Stay well hydrated. Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
- Staying hydrated is shown to help individuals stay awake/alert (and you’ll probably notice a sleep spell kicking in when you’re feeling dehydrated). Keep a water bottle nearby and take sips even before you feel thirsty. Other good sources of fluid include herbal teas, low fat milk/nut milks and small amounts of 100% real fruit/vegetable juices.
6. Eat small frequent meals throughout the day
- Eating throughout the day will keep you full and prevent you from indulging or binging on those tempting, “unhealthy” foods.
7. Watch the caffeine.
- Drinking coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages can help you stay alert. Limit the amount of caffeine you consume to approx 400mg daily (or about (on average) 4 cups of coffee). Caffeine can stay in your system for up to eight hours which can really mess around with your sleeping patterns (something YOU need when you’re in stressmode!) Stick with the options in tip #5 for staying hydrated instead!
8. Keep active. Nutrition and fitness work as a team. Keep active to improve your mood, stay fit, manage stress, improve sleeping patterns and re-energize! Use your short study breaks to go for a walk around the campus or grab a group of friends and hit up the gym!
Got any other nutrition related study tips? Stick ’em in the comments section below! GOOD LUCK to all my student readers – you’ll do amazingly!