Probably the last thing you think about while studying for your board exams is how to eat well. You are often so busy that even microwaving something seems to take too much time. However, you increase your chances of developing chronic illnesses when you rely on instant and fast foods that are high in fat and low in nutrients. Also, those foods don’t give you the energy to sustain hours of working, and frequent consumption – coupled with excessive caffeine use – can leave you feeling ill. Here are some tips for preparing easy, nutritious, energy-giving foods when your mind is on your studies.
- Many people get sleepy after large, heavy meals. Instead, have a small snack every three or four hours. If you leave your house to study, bring snacks with you instead of relying whatever might be available in a gas station or machine. Those options probably won’t be healthy.
- Skip the candy bars. The sugar will just make you crash.
- Snacks with complex carbohydrates and proteins will give you an energy boost. Try whole grain products, like crackers or bread (be sure they are marked “whole grain”) with cheese or peanut butter.
- Dried fruit and nuts and seeds are healthy snacks that easy to transport and eat. Try making your own trail mix with some variation of dried fruit and unsalted cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Packaged trail mix is probably too high in fat and sodium.
- Fresh fruit like apples, bananas, tangerines and strawberries are quick and easy to eat. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends two cups of fruit per day for men and women aged 19 to 30. Fruit that is in season will be cheaper and taste best.
- Carry fresh, raw, portable vegetables with you, like grape tomatoes, baby carrots or broccoli. In-season vegetables are also better for cost and taste.
- Many stores now carry frozen vegetables that can be steamed in the microwave in their original packaging in about three minutes.
- Energy bars are a toss-up. Some make a great quick meal and some are basically candy bars. Look for bars with a mixture of grains and fruits and that are higher in protein and fiber and have fewer than four grams of sugar per bar.
- Remember to drink water. Coffee and energy drinks are diuretics, and it’s easy to go overboard and forget to drink extra water. If you feel thirsty, you are already a little dehydrated.
- If you drink a lot of coffee, you may be getting unneeded calories through all the cream and sugar. Monitor your intake, or have an espresso.
Visit the USDA’s website for more tips or an individualized plan:
Visit these other sites for more advice: