>Rose Berry discusses how eating the right foods can you give your brain a real boost…

With exams fast approaching, I’m sure many of you are wondering how you can do your best to achieve the grades you want. Revising is undoubtedly the most obvious tip, but what about providing your noggin with the fuel it needs? Look no further because one small change to your diet can make a large impact on how well you do. If you have found yourself struggling to follow a balanced diet whilst being at university in fear of overspending, or are simply unaware of what foods are good for you, this article is sure to help. After meeting up with nutritional therapist Rebecca Irwin from Neal’s Yard Therapy Rooms in Bristol, she enlightened me with a wealth of information that I just had to share with WesternEye readers. Here are some foods, which will help to reduce stress and give you that all important boost of energy that we all need during the exam period… 

Photo by Martin Cathrae

To begin with, Rebecca encouraged eating oily fish like mackerel and salmon twice a week, as they contain omega 3 which helps the brain function. Not only is fish a great substitute for meat, but sometimes works out cheaper and is easily accessible from the supermarket. Deliciously pre-seasoned, vacuum-packed, smoked mackerel fillets work out at about 65p each – almost half of what you pay for a basic chicken breast. Next she discussed the important vitamin B-complex which is found in foods such as wholegrains, brown rice, beans, pulses, and vegetables – particularly dark green leaves like spinach. Each of these help to combat stress and are incredibly filling, helping to prevent those distracting mid-examination stomach rumbles – yes, we’ve all had them. Whilst these will leave you feeling satisfied for a while, Rebecca highly encourages snacking on foods like crackers and hummus, dried fruits and nuts, or cottage cheese. Having these snacks in between meals will keep blood sugar levels balanced and energy levels consistent. Whilst things like dried fruit and nuts might seem expensive, both can be found in supermarkets’ own branded muesli, which costs less than a £1 per kilogram. Alternatively, www.graze.com boasts of an array of delicious healthy snacks. One of the website’s main focuses is the importance of blood sugar and how it makes you ‘perform your best during the day’. Graze is an online company who put together and deliver boxes of healthy snacks, allowing you to eat throughout the day in a ‘guilt free’ way. The boxes are sold in various sizes with no delivery charge. As an added bonus, you can choose what to put in them, whether you’re after some Mississippi Pistachio nuts, honeycomb flapjacks, or maybe even a quick fix of dark chocolate. If the increased brain power isn’t a good enough reason to invest in a box, each new customer gets their first box half price at for just £1.89.

And you can’t get a cheaper healthy food fix than buying bowls of fruit and vegetables, sold for £1 each, rather conveniently, on our very own Frenchay campus from Monday to Friday. At such low prices the produce is affordable for students with bargains such as five delicious nectarines for £1 rivalling a pack of four sold at Sainsbury’s for £4. Having such a cheap selection of exciting and exotic fruit and vegetables gives you the opportunity to try things you may not have had before, whilst broadening your understanding of the scrumptious healthy foods that are out there. How many students can say they just picked up dragon fruit and a bag of lychees whilst walking back from their lecture?

As you can see, it is incredibly easy and affordable to eat healthy food as a student. Combine these foods with drinking plenty of water and, if you can, reduce your alcohol intake to give yourself the best chance at succeeding in your exams.

So pick up your student cookbook if you haven’t already and see how you can use these ingredients to make some nutritious, satisfying and delicious dishes, and you’ll be feeling rejuvenated before you know it. Good luck with the exams!

If you want to learn more about nutrition and how to improve your diet, go to http://www.rebeccairwin.moonfruit.com/ to book an appointment with Rebecca.

 Rose Berry