Thursday, 5 January 2017

How eating well can help you prepare!

The Case Study exam is not far away! I hope the revision is going well. 

We know that revising is important But what about looking after ourselves? If you want to do the very best you can, here is an extra tip for you: what you eat can have a huge impact on your preparation! Countless studies have shown that eating healthily can improve concentration, memory and overall well being.

Interested in the food fiends and brain favourites? Read on…

When faced with revision, it can be tempting to eat foods that are not the best for us. Most of us have done it. You've had a long day of revising for the CIMA exam and feel tired. Your brain aches with all the knowledge you have learnt. Or, perhaps, you feel as if nothing is going into your mind! You go out with your family for a meal and have a look at the menu. Which is the most tempting? The salad, complete with extra carrots or the pizza that is surrounded by chips? If you're stressed, it is much more likely to be the foods loaded with fat, salt and sugar. But don't get too angry at yourself. Science is behind this.

If we start to feel very stressed, our body has a flight or fight response. This means that hormones are released that help us to replenish energy stores. How do they do this? By increasing sugar cravings and fat storage, these hormones tell us to look out for any form of sugar in sight. Back in evolutionary times, our problems often centered around running away from predators. For anyone taking an exam, it's going to be less about running from a Saber tooth tiger and more about what lays in store for the exam! Unfortunately, our brains cannot tell the difference and so the hormones that tell us to look out for high energy foods are released, even if there is no running involved.

What can we do to combat this and set you on the road for success? Like many things in life, starting as you mean to go on is key. Before you start revising in the morning, it is important to eat a good breakfast. This includes slow release carbohydrates, which includes whole grain bread, porridge or muesli. Bring in some protein, such as eggs or yogurt. It's also important to keep drinking fluids. You should aim to drink 8 to 10 200ml glasses a day and most fluids count, including water, milk or tea. Fizzy drinks or those high in sugar are still counted, but they should be kept to a minimum.

Vegetables, fruits, protein and whole grains should make up a substantial amount of your diet. There is such a wide range of these foods that the lists of recipes are endless. Have as much colour on your plate as you can! It's also important to eat Omega 3 fats, such as olive oil, instead of butters. Avocados are a particular good source, as are most types of fish, including salmon and mackerel. It is also thought that blueberries are particularly useful for improving memory.

Finally, the night before your exam, try to have your last meal at least three hours before you go to sleep, as eating too late can effect your sleep cycle. If you do feel peckish before bedtime, it's best to have a bowl of high fiber cereal, such as porridge. Avoid caffeine, drink plenty of water and try to relax, knowing that you have done as much as you can.

If you take on these food tips, you will be doing the best for yourself. It will ensure that you are preparing in every way for the CIMA exam and could have a real impact on the big day!  Best of luck for your revision!

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