Food isn’t just about taste and calories; it’s about getting nutrients into us that optimize our ability to do what we need to do each day. When we’re preparing for our GCSEs and A-Levels, what we really need to do is study.
What types of food are best for those in “study mode”?
Fortunately, there’s enough good stuff needed to make the ideal revising student menu rather eclectic and full of deliciousness. Below are some ideas of the most beneficial nutrients that facilitate better study:
l High-protein foods – meat, fish, eggs, poultry, beans and lentils, dairy/soy – proteins are the essential component that strengthens our ability to send messages around the body. These can form a tasty base for many dishes, thus allowing great variety and therefore more enjoyment from study-break snacks and meals.
l Antioxidants – fruit and vegetables, especially leafy green vegetables – these help to lessen the negative impacts of the rigours of life on our fragile brain. In the long term, they are even thought to be a preventative measure against things like Alzheimer’s (not that your teenage GCSE or A-Level student has to worry about that, yet).
l Omega-3 – oily fish, flaxseed, eggs, chicken – what is it that makes people say fish and other items in this list are “brain food”? It’s the Omega-3 oil. Besides being good for the brain, Omega-3 is also good for the eyes, which is useful for students looking at books, notes and screens all day. It also has positive effects again depression and anxiety, two of the most common problems exam students suffer from.
l Water (obviously) – it’s crucial that students stay hydrated to prevent headaches and other discomforts that results from a lack of water. Throughout their day, ensure they drink plenty by making the “default” drink setting as nice, pure and freshwater. To liven up the water, you might also consider green tea, which not only adds great taste but also offers antioxidants. Green tea is a healthier alternative to coffee, offering many similar stimulant properties without as much downside.
Ideas for dishes and snacks to prepare for revising students
It’s all very well and good knowing which nutrients are good, but the question is how to incorporate them into delicious meals. Below we’ve listed a few examples, but here are some links to dishes and snacks you could consider.
1. Mediterranean Tuna Salad – made with tinned tuna, chickpeas, Greek olives and mixed vegetables. Add a nice light dressing for extra flavour, and you’ve got an easy, winning dish that’s satisfying, beneficial but not overly filling.
2. Lemony Chicken and Broccoli Pasta – for when you need something a bit heartier and more substantial. This dish is easy and quick to prepare and combines simple flavours to deliver protein, antioxidants, Omega-3 and also vitamin C from the lemons.
1. Cucumber sticks with cottage cheese – cut into sticks and dip into the cheese, or dice the cucumber and mix it into an easy salad snack.
2. Mixed nuts – a handful of these will offer a great and satisfying protein boost, and better yet, they’re great when time is a bit tight. Little to no washing up afterwards is also a nice bonus.
3. Apples and peanut butter – it may sound a little odd, but it’s a great way to combine multiple nutrients into one cunning snack. The flavour profiles match better than you think.
Can’t I just get a takeaway?
Take-aways are certainly time-savers, but they cost you a lot more money, and they also carry a lot less of the great nutrients you can build into homemade dishes and snacks. Takeaway food is stodgy, heavy, and so filling that all you want to do after eating is curl up on the settee and go to sleep. A takeaway once a month might be a nice treat when your kids are taking the evening off studying, but they aren’t good for revision time.
Cooking for your kids is a simple and tasty way to provide useful support. And hey, you could always make a little extra for yourself!