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Five healthy eating tips to manage exam-time stress

We are nearing the end of the semester, and exam period is on the horizon. You may find yourself slipping into the “coffee and take-out” diet as your eating habits slide down the priority list and the stress of studying starts to take precedence. However, good nutrition should be a priority now more than ever; the better you fuel your brain and body, the better you will study. A healthy diet increases energy, promotes concentration, improves memory, reduces stress, and supports your immune system. Contrary to common belief, healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Here are some healthy eating tips to fuel your study sessions and to help you feel your bes



Support your immune system.

How many of you have spent the holidays sick? There is no denying that exam time is a stressful one, and it is well-known that stress weakens the immune system. Support your immune system by getting enough sleep, staying active and eating well. Amino acids are the building blocks of all of our body’s cells. Protein rich foods like eggs, lean meats, beans and nuts contain the necessary amino acids needed to protect yourself against harmful pathogens. Phytochemicals act as a plant’s defense mechanism—but for us, they provide the vibrant colour to our fruits and vegetables and serve as antioxidants that promote immune function. Eat the rainbow! Try to include at least two different colors of fruits/vegetables at all meals to maximize the variety of vitamins and minerals on your plate



Stock up on staples.

Before things get too crazy, stock up on some pantry and freezer items. Canned tuna, brown rice, oats, beans, frozen fruit and veggies are all convenient, budget-friendly foods that won’t spoil. When you’re swamped with school work, the last thing you will want to do is cook a time-consuming meal. Having staples on hand will reduce the likelihood of you reaching for the phone to order pizza. The student discount deal at Domino’s can be hard to resist when you don’t have much food in the house, but a well-balanced meal will serve as better fuel for your study session, helping you feel energized instead of sluggish.



Prepare meals in advance.

Set yourself up for success! Make a big batch of chili or a hearty soup on Sunday and freeze your leftovers to enjoy once the exam period hits. Alternatively, invest in a slow-cooker and let it work its magic while you’re cramming in the library so that you can come home from a long day of studying to a hot meal. Slow-cookers also leave you with minimal clean-up and lots of leftovers for the next day!



Pack healthy snacks.

Before hitting the library for a marathon study session, throw some healthy snacks into your backpack. Try: a whole wheat wrap with peanut butter and banana slices, plain Greek yogurt with berries, a handful of nuts, or raw veggies with hummus. Don’t forget to pack a water bottle along with your snacks! Dehydration can result in a reduced ability to concentrate, lower energy levels and negative moods, so drink up!



Don’t forget to eat!

While some people lose their appetite while stressed, many people simply forget to eat. Food is fuel for your brain. Making sure that you are providing your brain with a consistent supply of energy will help you stay focused, productive and energized. Try setting an alarm on your phone as a reminder to eat something every three to four hours. If you lose your appetite from stress, it may be easier to stomach liquid-based meals like smoothies. Add a handful of spinach for some greens, avocado for some healthy fats and Greek yogurt for a protein punch!

Anna Jackson, RD

For answers to your nutrition questions, see the Student Health  Centre\s Registered Dietitian. To book an appointment, call (506) 453-4837 or drop in to the Student Health Centre, located on the third floor of C.C. Jones Centre. Dietitian services are FREE to all full-time UNB and STU students. No referral is needed.


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