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Studying can be difficult enough as it is even without having to find time to cook meals and prepare snacks for yourself. Exam and assessment periods often mean long days and nights in front of the screen and books, stressing, burning mental energy and using up so much paper. If you’re anything like me, situations like these make me crave copious amounts of junk food, sugary snacks and UberEats binges.

It makes sense, right? Initially, yes. Such foods are quick and convenient when time is short and, unlike studying itself, are pretty darn enjoyable. While a somewhat unhealthy diet in the lead up to assessment periods may be convenient (and delicious), study snacks that consist of chips, chocolate and lollies aren’t the best things for your brain.

So, during your next assessment period, give eating for your brain a try as a way to maximise performance and brain function when you need it most! I’m not suggesting you impose a zero-junk food policy on yourself, or that you drastically change your eating habits. Instead, try to make small changes to your eating habits that will help your brain function at optimum level.

The Benefits

Various studies have linked certain foods to improved memory function, improved mood and preventing cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Although I wont get into depth on the science behind eating for your brain, there’s plenty of reliable information available online if you’re curious! Neuroscientist Lisa Mosconi, PhD author of ‘Brain Food: The Surprising Science of Eating for Cognitive Power’ has found in her research that “Of all the organs in the body, the brain is the one most easily damaged by a poor diet”. She goes on to say that “Put simply: everything in the brain that isn’t made by the brain itself is ‘imported’ from the food we eat”

The Best Brain Foods

Based on Lisa’s findings, taking time to eat for your brain seems to be an excellent idea. Besides, setting aside time to cook and prepare brain-healthy meals and snacks will provide a welcome break from study. Research suggests that some of the best foods for your brain include dark, leafy greens, berries, nuts, fatty fish such as salmon, coffee, tea and dark chocolate. Many of these foods are fairly easy to incorporate into your diet without changing it dramatically. Snack on berries, nuts and dark chocolate. Make a smoothie with banana, leafy greens and lots of honey (I promise you will hardly taste the kale in there!), eat fish for dinner instead of meat and sip on tea and coffee while you work.

So, to prepare for exams in a holistic way, try giving some thought to what foods you’re consuming. Don’t feel pressured to impose a strict diet on yourself or fuss over the intricacies of the science too much- just something small to keep in mind when studying hard and thinking about what your next study snack will be…

By Emma Jones