How eating habits can affect your ability to perform: Food for thought

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On March 13, counsellors from UNBSJ were outside Ganong Hall Lecture Theatre offering information on nutrition and healthy eating on campus. They used interactive games and the promise of prizes to get students thinking: why should we pay close attention to what we eat?

What you eat affects your brain, which in turn affects academic performance and mood. This is especially important during March and April, when many students are putting in long hours on campus and neglecting healthy eating. When combined with stress and insufficient sleep, eating poorly can turn you into a disheveled, irritable bane on society.

Almost every person on campus has experienced the “crash” of having no energy- whether it be early in the morning after an all-nighter, mid-afternoon as you daydream about a siesta on your textbooks, or late at night when you’re the only one left in the Commons.

Counselor Freeman Woolnough suggests that this crash can largely be avoided if you’re eating frequently (and not just eating crap). Without enough calories, your body will crash, regardless of what you eat; however, certain foods contain nutrients to keep our bodies running longer and sustain focus. Freeman also cautions that students are at a higher risk of crashing because we stay up late. He specified that students should “eat regularly throughout waking day,” not just during daylight hours.

To avoid feeling fatigued, choose foods that will keep your neurons firing, not slow them down. Freeman says that “healthy eating doesn’t have to take a lot of time and planning.” He recommends eating a handful of nuts (i.e. almonds) or berries between classes- this is an easy way to boost energy levels and mood.  If you have a sweet tooth, take the advice of psychology student, Michael Crate: dark chocolate is his favorite study snack, which he also uses as a substitute for coffee. Besides being delicious, dark chocolate improves your mood and has positive health benefits for your heart. It does not contain as much caffeine as a coffee, putting you at less risk of crashing during a late-night study (or facebook) session.

Want to boost your brain power and mood? Try some of these superfoods recommended at “Tickle My Neurons” to keep your brain going during the last few weeks of the semester!

— Broccoli protects against depression, boosts your immune system and maintains eyesight for late-night essay writing!
— Two to three cups of loose leaf tea can enhance concentration. Pick some up at Teavana or Java Moose!
— Eating blueberries regularly can help improve memory  and reduce stress
— Getting healthy proteins from fish or nuts can help you stay alert, as well as enhancing motivation and mood.