Do do you have what it takes to be a top-class student?
Healthy eating on campus can be such a mission as healthier options are often hard to come by. This may leave you wondering, is it really worth the effort? Every year from the 9-15th of October, South Africans celebrate National Nutrition Week (NNW).
During NNW information is shared to empower all South Africans to make healthy food choices and to promote the importance of physical activity. In this blog post, I wish to empower YOU, the students of today and professionals of tomorrow, by sharing what I consider to be the ultimate brain foods as well as 10 smart tips to ensure that you have what it takes to be a top-class student!
Introducing the ultimate brain foods:
Wholegrain/high fibre carbohydrates
The brain uses ±200g of glucose (a product of broken down carbohydrates) per day. Including wholegrain/high fibre, carbohydrates are vital for optimal brain functioning and concentration. This includes the added benefit of keeping your blood glucose (sugar) levels under control for sustained energy. Wholegrains also supply your body with all essential B-vitamins and they keep you regular. Examples of wholegrain, high fibre carbohydrates: wholewheat bread and pasta, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
The underrated egg
Eggs are a good source of phospholipids, choline, iron, vitamin A and protein, which makes the egg one of the world’s ultimate brain foods. Enjoy boiled egg as a snack or include it as a protein source at breakfast or lunch.
Consume good sources of omega-3 fats by including fatty fish (sardines, pilchards, snoek, trout, salmon and mackerel) at least 2-3 times per week. This can be as simple as sardines on toast or get inspired and whip up some homemade fishcakes for dinner.
10 smart tips to ensure you have what it takes to be top-class student!
Plan your meals and snacks
Pack your lunchbox the night before. This avoids the frantic morning rush and ensures that you will have access to healthier options throughout the day.
Start your day off right, eat breakfast!
Even if you struggle to eat early in the morning, it is always best to bite the bullet and at least have something small. Eating breakfast gives you ENERGY and STAMINA to get you through the day.
Avoid skipping meals or snacks
Making sure you don’t skip meals or snacks allows your blood glucose (sugar) levels to be controlled throughout the day and ENHANCES CONCENTRATION.
Make snacks COUNT!
Remember to include a variety of foods in your lunchbox. Add plenty of fruits and vegetables (all the colours of the rainbow) as well as low fat dairy. This ensures you get all the vitamins and minerals which are important for immunity and brain functioning.
Don’t forget to hydrate!
Up to 70% of your body is made up of water so staying hydrated is important. Dehydration can negatively affect your brain functioning as it leads to tiredness, poor concentration, headaches and light headedness.
Snack only when hungry
Skip the urge to nibble or use food as a comfort when bored, frustrated or stressed. Snacking according to your individual eating routine or when hungry ensures that you don’t overeat. Rather feed the urge to nibble by taking a study break or exercising.
Avoid sugary drinks, sweets and chocolates
Luxuries can spike your blood glucose (sugar) levels and make it difficult to concentrate. Say goodbye to unhealthy energy-dense calories and HELLO to NOURISHING food!
Exercise, you must make time for it!
Make exercise your stress relief. According to clinical studies, moderate physical activity (30 minutes, 5 times a week) improves executive processing and cognition, not to mention the beneficial effects on general health and fitness levels.
Keep an eye on your caffeine intake
Caffeine is a stimulant which is why many students use coffee to help them stay awake. However, too much coffee can leave you jittery and may compromise your sleep.
Get enough sleep!
Ensure you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep before a big exam. Managing your time and stress appropriately as well as a healthy, balanced and varied diet can make the world of difference!
Using the ultimate brain foods + 10 sublime tips, here are two examples of what a healthy lunchbox looks like:
If you’d like to learn more about culinary arts, take a look at our Culinary Arts Programmes on offer.