How to Eat Right, Stay Fit and Be Calm During Exam Season?

Blog By: Kavitha Iyer.

Exams mean three aspects from a nutrition perspective: a diet that keeps your brain cells alert, lots of fluids to transmit nutrients to the brain, and adequate sleep to absorb nutrition and overcome fatigue. If all three are fulfilled, the student will be more attentive, will be able to absorb lessons faster and won’t need to cram up.

Ideal diet:

Keep It Light: Concentrate on light nutritive foods and snacks; don’t give the child heavy meals that will make him/her lethargic. Eggs, Upma or oats khichdi are good breakfast choices. Lunch and dinner should be light, containing a dal, sabji, roti and raw salad, and there should be two snacks or mini-meals — one containing a handful of nuts which are essential brain food, and one containing fruits. So, an assorted fruit chaat is a good option.

Munch It Right:

Fruits contain antioxidants that help the brain stay alert. If you’re non-veg, chicken for lunch is a good option. A lot of kids study late, in this case, a light, early dinner (by 8 pm) is necessary, and then every two hours the child can munch on some nuts or a slice of cheese along with green tea with honey or regular tea.

Complete no-no:
Heavy foods that make the child go to sleep, like biryani, parathas, milk products like kheer, other sweets, etc.

Coffee is not a good option for teenagers. It causes hyperactivity, acidity and acne which distracts children from their studies.

Food to enhance memory:
Good fats and foods rich in Vitamin B enhance memory. Good fats include nuts, seeds, raw extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines. Foods rich in Vitamin B are high fibre foods like whole wheat, vegetables like broccoli, brussel sprouts, nuts, especially peanuts, and egg yolks.

Body >> Stay Fit
During exams, students should opt for a light intensity exercise routine, which involves cardio and stretches. Long drawn, high intensity workouts are avoidable, as it requires rest and recuperation. Sports like badminton can be played for a short duration, which will provide a refreshing break from studies as well as increase blood circulation, boost energy levels and in turn productivity. However, exercise caution while playing sports so that you don’t injure yourself. Limit the duration to about 30 minutes to avoid tiring yourself out.

Follow this easy routine:
Head outdoors, preferably to a park. Carry water and a yoga mat. Start with taking a few deep breaths and then walk for five minutes. Jog lightly for 15 to 20 minutes followed by shoulder, wrist and hip rotations, forward-backward bending and side-stretches.

If the park is far away and you are walking or jogging just outside your house, do the stretches as soon as you’re back home. Cat Stretch (three times), Cobra Stretch (four times) with breathing — inhale when you come up and exhale when going down, and Rabbit stretch (hold for 10 seconds). After these, lie down on your stomach with head to one side or on your back and leave all the muscles loose in Shavasana. For about a minute, let the body relax. This will also act as a power nap to recharge you.

Exercise in between studies:
When sitting for long durations, every hour or so, walk around for some blood circulation. If your lower back feels strained, do a standing back bend with hands on your hips. To relieve the neck and upper back, while sitting, take your hands behind you, pull the shoulders and neck back and hold the stretch for a few seconds. Repeat three times. Raising the shoulders up to bring them close to your ears and then bringing them down to a relaxed position a few times also relieves strain from the neck and upper back. Another effective stretch is the Tadasana. Interlock your fingers and stretch them above the head, towards the ceiling. Hold the stretch for a few seconds before releasing it. Repeat it three to four times.

Mind >> Ease Your Mind
There is something called the optimum level of stress that keeps the students on their toes. Then there is 0% stress, which makes the student complacent and laidback. On the other hand is extreme stress, in which, the task creates so much anxiety that the student is unable to constructively use his/her time to take action. He/she spends all the time worrying, imagining the worst and blaming themselves and others.

Follow the 9-point guide, and you’re fine!

1) Students can incorporate mindfulness exercises in their lives where they need to focus on their breathing and bring themselves into the present moment. The tendency of the mind is to look into the past or the future. At such times, the person tends to look at past problems or future worries and gets into a negative mode.
2) Take each day at a time and set simple, achievable targets.
3) Do not compare yourself with others.
4) Every day, visualise yourself getting up on the exam day, looking at the paper, knowing the answers, writing your paper and completing it on time.
5) Be in touch with someone who can share your apprehensions and worries.
6) Take regular breaks between your study periods.
7) One of the most common fears that students have during exams is that they will forget whatever they have learnt. So, it’s very useful to write answers and solve question papers regularly just like they would for their exams.
8) Keep cell phones and laptops away.
9) Sleeping well and eating properly are very important. Studying through the night and day without proper sleep leads to irritability, dullness and slowing down.

Avoid the parent trap
It’s important that parents keep their frustration and anxiety to themselves. In many cases, parents are more worked up than the child and they transfer their anxiety on to the child by passing discouraging statements. On the other hand, parents who are too easy make the kid feel that they don’t care. A balance is very important.
Help the child find solutions. Being supportive, even if just by presence, matters. Allow the child to express his/her worries and make the child confident that he/she will be loved, whatever the outcome.


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