Foods to help you study

I remember having lots of hot Ribena when I was studying for my GCSEs.

I scoffed packets of midget gems in my A level Art exam, to help me cope with my nerves.

Food can have a major impact on how we feel and, more often than not, we’re trained to reach out to certain foods when we are feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

It’s not your fault

What you don’t realise is, that it’s not your fault.

So much of the food you eat and the drinks you have are filled with added sugars and sweeteners, which can affect your mood and your outlook.

Some of the ‘hidden nasties’ include:

  • Aspartame (E951) – this can cause high blood pressure, seizures, depression, numbness, aching muscles and dizziness. It’s currently in over 6000 food products available to us.
  • Sucralose (E955) – it’s sold under the brand name Splenda. Scientific tests show it shrinks the thymus gland and enlarges the liver and kidneys, it reduces growth, decreases red blood cell count and causes diarrhoea.
  • Acesulfame K (E590) – stimulates insulin which causes hypoglycaemia after a low calorie intake. This means it’ll give you low blood sugar levels, which can make you feel clumsy, confused, sweaty or shaky, to name but a few!
  • Saccharin (E954) – this was an ‘anticipated human carcinogen’ for many years. Studies claimed it could cause cancer, others claimed it couldn’t. It’s up to you what you believe. It’s up to you if you want to consume it. Saccharin also causes irritability, insomnia, headaches, itching and diarrhoea.

So, if you’re revising and you want to reach out for a comforting food, just check the label first.

All the high energy drinks out there might keep you awake and focused, but they could be adding to your insomnia and irritability.

That packet of sweets that seem to calm you down, could have an ingredient in it that will add to your mood swings and panic attacks.

It’s your body, do what’s right for you

Most people glare at me when I tell them this information. I was the same when I found out. All the happy memories associated with my favourite sweets and treats felt like a big fat lie. I didn’t know that they could do so much damage.

It took practise to break free from the trap and I can happily say, that I no longer enjoy the sweets that I used to go to in times of need.

Instead, I’ve trained my taste buds to savour dark chocolate, or crisps with just a few key ingredients. Fruit is my sugar hit and I know that in times of stress, slow-releasing carbs will serve me well.

Everyone is different when it comes to what they need, but the key is to listen to your body.

Try some of these stress-busting foods to feel good:

  • Green veg, potatoes, fresh fruit, wholegrain cereals, brown rice, dairy products, seafood, lean meat, liver, kidneys, poultry, peas, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. Why? Because the B vitamins will help release the energy you need to focus and will keep your nervous system healthy.
  • Fresh fruits – especially citrus fruits and blackcurrants, and fresh vegetables. Why? To help keep your body healthy and keep those bugs at bay.
  • Wholemeal bread, brown rice, pulses, oats, wholewheat pasta and potatoes. Why? They’ll boost your energy levels and keep them consistent, so you won’t get sugar cravings, or low moods. And they’ll help keep your mind calm.

If you need more help to stay calm for your exams, you can get my FREE Exam Stress Survival Kit here, or sign up to the ‘Get Confident and Calm for Your Exams.’

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