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What to eat during last-minute study sessions

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What to eat during last-minute study sessions

Rewarding yourself, or if we’re being more honest here yourself with snacks is a long-standing and reputable study hack. The idea is that after every paragraph or page you read, you will find a sour worm staring up into your tired eyes. You pick it up, dust the sugar off your stained-yellow textbook page and eagerly pop it into your mouth. Hopefully you have the willpower to suck on it until you reach the next paragraph, page, or whatever. That’s it, you’re a genius, a master manipulator – you are the Niccolò Machiavelli of study habits. Who’s he? That’s not important right now. (Hint: he’s not this guy.)

WRONG!

How can I be wrong when you literally just called this method long-standing and reputable? Because the type of treats you’re choosing to “reward” yourself with significantly impact your study performance. Eating an entire packet of sugary snacks might make studying more fun in the moment, but your sugar high will soon come crashing down, leaving you tired, unfocused and cranky. Additionally, you might find yourself rushing through material so you can experience some more of that sugary ecstasy being shoved down your gob. In the end you feel sick, bloated and upset you didn’t make as much progress as you hoped.

SO WHATSHOULD I EAT INSTEAD?

Choosing the right snacks will keep your energy levels high and enhance your focus, which will boost your production. It’ll also give you some peace of mind that the food you’re eating is good for you, while still being a delicious and effective bribery.

ALMONDS

Almonds are the best. They’re delicious, nutritious, loaded with antioxidants and vitamins, they fill you up and, most importantly, there’s evidence to suggest that they help boost your memory retention. Maybe eating a single almond for every paragraph isn’t amazing, but a serving at the end of your chapter is the perfect little break.

FRUIT SALAD

Next up we have fruit salads. Those almonds definitely hit the spot, but now you need something sweet and hydrating. Dice up your favourite fruits and mix them up in a container – it’s like eating lollies except you’re also being responsible and healthy. Plus everyone who sees you eating fruit salads will think you’ve got your life together.

DARK CHOCOLATE

Alright, it’s pretty obvious that nuts and fruits are better for you than sour worms, but did you know you can eat chocolate as well? Studies suggest that eating dark chocolate will reduce your stress (important in exams!) and inflammation, while improving your memory, immunity and mood. Is dark chocolate the triple-threat (or quintet-threat? Is that a thing?) of brain foods? That’s probably a bit of a stretch, but now you have a treat you can easily break up over every paragraph, page, chapter or whatever.

COFFEE

Okay, so what you get out of coffee is caffeine, a stimulant which increases the activity in your brain. Having a cup of coffee before you begin studying can make you feel awake, refreshed and focused on your tasks. On the other hand, too much coffee will make you feel anxious, unfocused and upset. There is a very fine line – don’t sit at your desk smashing lattes all day, enjoy it with appropriate levels of moderation. You should also be drinking water. The human adult body is something like 60 per cent water, so keep your hydration levels high to avoid the pitfalls of studying while parched.

SPECIAL MENTIONS

There are so many healthy, delicious snacks which will boost your productivity rather than sabotaging it. Edamame beans are nutritious, delicious and bite-sized; chopped veggies with hummus or peanut butter can go a long way; and dried fruit trail mixes can add a lot of variety as well.

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