When you’re studying for exams, good nutrition often slides down the priority list. However, a long exam is like a mental marathon in which endurance is critical.
The right food and drink can energize your system, improve your alertness and sustain you through long exam hours. On the other hand, the wrong dietary choices can make you feel sluggish and jittery. These “bad foods” are often those that give you a quick dose of sugar and lift your energy levels temporarily – which is also what you often crave during exam times.
The reason you crave these high GL foods is because you have allowed your blood sugar levels to dip. That is why eating a Low GL diet and staying away from high GL foods is so important, especially during learning or stressful times in your life.
A low GL diet is easy to follow. You just need to follow three golden rules:
1. Eat no more than 40 GLs a day
2. Eat protein with carbohydrate
3. Graze don’t gorge
Your GL intake breaks down as 10 GLs each for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus 5 GLs for a mid-morning and mid after snack – so you eat (or graze) regularly instead of gorging at one or two big meals. Snacks are vital when you are studying – opt for healthy snacks such as fresh fruit, popcorn, fruit scones, dried fruit, yoghurt or nuts to keep you going throughout the day. These are better choices than cakes, biscuits, chocolate and sweets that are high in refined sugars that give you a ‘sugar rush’ after eating them but leave you feeling flat and in a bit of a slump shortly afterwards. If you are taking a long exam and are worried about concentration levels falling, take a healthy snack with you to eat either during or before the exam.
Low GL Load foods release their glucose more slowly so you maintain stable energy levels for longer. Here is a list of 30 Low GL foods to help you to make the right choices;
9. Whole Wheat Bread
17. Blue berries
22. Sweet Potatoes
23. Brown Rice
29. Chia Seeds and other seeds
30. Green Beans