Feeling the pressure? That’s not surprising. There’s a lot riding on your exam results. Exercise, not working too hard and chilling out with friends and family all help reduce stress.
But did you know that what you eat also affects your ability to cope with the demands of revision and exams? Here are my top 5 stress-busting & energising food strategies.
1. Kick your sugar habit
Sugar also has stimulant effects, along with other refined carbs like white bread, crisps and biscuits. These make your blood-glucose rise quickly, giving you an energy boost. But then it falls sharply, triggering sugar cravings and adrenaline release, which leaves you feeling tense and irritable.
- Avoid sugary drinks and sweets.
- Snack on fruit and nuts rather than crisps and biscuits.
- Choose wholemeal bread for your sandwiches and toast.
2. Take five
Cortisol is a hormone that helps the body adapt to sustained stress. The chances are that while you’re revising, your body is cranking out a lot of cortisol. This uses up your vitamin C and magnesium. Magnesium is also needed to convert glucose into energy and for muscle relaxation which helps you sleep at night.
- Have 5 portions of fruit and veg daily to provide vitamin C and magnesium.
- It’s easier than you think: fruit on your cereal, salad with lunch, fruit for a snack, two veg with dinner
3. Boost your B vitamins
B-vitamins help release energy from food and make chemical messengers in the brain, including serotonin which is calming and makes you feel good. They’re used up more quickly when you’re stressed, so include these B-rich foods: wholegrains, nuts/seeds and beans/peas/lentils. Try:
- Porridge or musesli for breakfast
- A few nuts with a banana for a snack
- Chickpea curry with brown rice for dinner
How do you keep going when you’re up against it? Cola? Strong coffee? Energy drinks or caffeine pills?
These all provide a fast-acting caffeine boost that can relieve tiredness and make you feel more alert. But bear in mind that they’re not designed to replace sleep.
- Swap ordinary tea for green tea – lower in caffeine and higher in calming L-theanine
- Try passion flower tea which encourages restful sleep.
5. Don’t forget to chew!
When you’re under pressure, it’s tempting to eat on the run and shovel your food down quickly while you work. But anticipating and thinking about food is important for stimulating digestive juices, and chewing properly starts the digestion process. So taking time over meals, relaxing and eating slowly can help you to avoid some of the digestive problems that can be associated with stress, like bloating and constipation, which can leave you feeling tired and sluggish.
- Take proper time out to eat
- Relax, eat slowly and don’t forget to chew.
This article is for information purposes only and is not intended to replace proper medical or nutritional advice. If you have any concerns about your health or wellbeing, you should consult your doctor.