Does what you eat in the morning influence how you'll do on a school or work exam?
Thousands of students from first grade through graduate school take exams ranging from quizzes to college entrance and state licensing assessments, but few know what's best to eat in order to ace the test. According to an October 18, 2009 press release, "Eat to excel on exam day," from the Dietitians Association of Australia, healthy eating is probably the last thing on the minds of school students preparing for exams every month. But eating the right food is one of the keys to exam success regardless of where you live.
Interestingly, what you eat before you take a school course exam has been a hot topic in discussion among some nutritional professionals of the American Dietetic Association at their annual meeting in Denver this weekend which drew nutrition professionals from around the world to the world's largest annual nutrition professionals meeting. What do some nutritionists in the USA say is good to eat before you take a written or oral exam compared to some nutritionists in other countries, such as Australia?
If you're not allergic to whole grains, some nutritionists in the USA recommend a breakfast of a small bowl of cooked whole oat groats tossed with some sunflower seeds or other chopped nuts, a teaspoon of lemon-flavored cod liver oil, a cup of decaffeinated green tea, if caffeine gives you an anxiety attack, a small salmon salad (canned salmon, about 3 tablespoons of fish mixed with a teaspoon of olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric mixed with black pepper, and a table spoon or two of chopped celery mixed with a teaspoon of grapeseed oil mayonnaise served on a few leaves of baby spinach or arugula with a side of two or three soaked prunes. If you can't eat grains, start with the salmon or other fish salad, chopped vegetables, and a whole fruit.
You can eat the cooked whole oat groats hot like a porridge or cold as a salad when drizzled with a half teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and a pinch of chopped raw vegetables of your choice.This entire breakfast meal can be prepared the night before the exam, stored in covered containers in the refrigerator, and taken out to be eaten in the morning of the exam.
It can save you time so you don't have to cook breakfast or grab a box of sugar-coated cold cereal and milk to give you the hypoglycemic shakes later on in the morning from high glucose spikes in your bloodstream after you eat a simple carbohydrate breakfast. What you need to aim for is balance. The fish salad balances the complex carbs of the whole oat groats, not high glycemic oat meal or flakes. If you can't eat sweets in the morning without getting the shakes, leave out the prunes for after the exam and stick with the fish salad, whole oat groats, and decaf green tea. The feeling of calm but not sleepiness from simple carbs will help you get through the exam.
Finish the breakfast meal off with a small amount of cod liver oil, about a teaspoon, for example Carlson's lemon-flavored cod liver oil.
According to the "Eat to excel on exam day," press release, Clare Evangelista, Spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia, (DAA) said eating a balanced diet can help improve concentration. ‘What we eat has a big impact on mental performance, so we need to give our brain the right fuel to help it perform at its peak. Eating energy bars, lollies and chocolates will give students a short-term spike in energy, but this doesn’t last,’ said Ms Evangelista, an Accredited Practising Dietitian.
Clare has these top five tips for improving energy and concentration levels on exam day: Eat breakfast - Stick with familiar foods and serve sizes on the morning of an exam as this is not the time to try anything new. Breakfast provides your brain with carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
According to the Dietitians Association of Australia press release, here are the five tips for improving energy and concentration levels. Try the following foods:
- A bowl of cereal with reduced-fat milk, topped with chopped fruit and a sprinkle of almonds
- Wholegrain or wholemeal toast with reduced-fat cheese and tomato, and a small fruit juice.
Eat regularly throughout the day - Eating energy-sustaining foods at meals and snacks will help to fuel the brain, maintain energy levels, and avoid dips in concentration.
Also, according to the Dietitians Association of Australia press release, try these other following foods:
- Sandwich, roll or wrap filled with salad vegetables, reduced-fat cheese, lean meat or tinned tuna
- Fruit smoothies made with reduced-fat milk and/or yoghurt
- Fruit (fresh, tinned or dried) or fruit and nut snack packs
- Crackers with tomato and reduced-fat cheese, toast and spreads, fruit bread, cereal with reduced-fat milk.
Drink plenty of water - This will hydrate your body, help reduce fatigue and help your brain work. If possible, take a water bottle in to the exam with you.
Limit excess caffeine - Limit coffee, caffeinated soft drinks or guarana-containing drinks. Caffeine can act as a mild stimulant, boosting alertness and staving off fatigue, but too much can make you feel nervous and restless, and may affect how well you sleep.
Exercise - Schedule in some physical activity before or in between exams. Exercise can help reduce stress, clear your mind and improve sleep patterns.
The Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) is the professional body representing dietitians nationally. Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD) is the only national credential recognized by the Australian Government, Medicare, the Department of Veterans, Affairs and most private health funds as the quality standard for nutrition and dietetics services in Australia. For more information visit the Dietitians Association of Australia site.
How does nutritional advice in Australia compare with the same in the USA? Also see the American Dietetic Association uTube video, the ADA PR Initiative for 2007. See the web site of the American Dietetic Association. Also see the American Dietetic Association's Food and Nutrition Information site and its site for Journal/Publications. What's happening this week is the The American Dietetic Association's largest annual meeting of food and nutrition professionals from around the world and in the USA.
What's great about this organization is that it welcomes journalists to the world’s largest annual meeting of food and nutrition professionals, ADA’s 2009 Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo, October 17-20 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colorado.
Each year, the American Dietetic Association brings together more than 10,000 registered dietitians, nutrition science researchers, policy makers, health-care providers and industry leaders to address key issues affecting the health of America. ADA’s annual conference features more than 100 research and educational presentations, lectures, debates, panel discussions and culinary demonstrations.
More than 300 exhibitors from corporations, government and nonprofit agencies this week are showcasing new consumer food products and nutrition education materials. This past weekend had been a great opportunity for food writers to find out what the hottest issues today in nutrition are and how experts are solving the problems through research and communications. For food writers, the press room is in the Colorado Convention center, Denver.
The American Dietetic Association Foundation, American Council for Fitness and Nutrition, and PE4life on October 19, 2009 released the findings of the 2008-09 Healthy Schools Partnership pilot study, a program designed to develop long-term solutions to the youth obesity epidemic, according to its press release from the American Dietetic Association, "American Dietetic Association Foundation’s Healthy Schools Partnership Shows Positive Results in Influencing Healthful Diet Choices among Grade School Students."
Evaluation of Pilot Program Indicates Improved Eating Behaviors
The Healthy Schools Partnership program places registered dietitians in schools as “RD Nutrition Coaches,” working with physical education coaches to help children change eating behaviors with short, one-on-one coaching sessions while being physically active.
A newly released evaluation of the program, conducted by the Dr. Robert C. and Veronica Atkins Center for Weight and Health at University of California – Berkeley, assessed the impact of the Healthy Schools Partnership program on students’ nutrition knowledge, attitudes and eating behaviors. The results “demonstrate the potential of the HSP and the value of using registered dietitians to teach nutrition and lead nutrition interventions in the school setting,” according to the authors.
“We are thrilled with the initial success of the Healthy Schools Partnership program,” said registered dietitian Judith L. Dodd, chair of the ADA Foundation. “ADAF is dedicated to reducing the incidence of childhood obesity in this country, and the positive feedback we’ve received from the pilot program is a great step towards reaching this goal. We are excited to expand the pilot program to more schools throughout 2009-2010 and across the country over the coming years.”
The Healthy Schools Partnership Program placed RD Nutrition Coaches at three public elementary schools in the Kansas City, Mo., area over a 14-week period: eight weeks in the fall and six weeks in the spring. The Coaches worked with fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students, providing several nutrition education programs including weekly, one-on-one nutrition counseling, physical education games incorporating food and nutrition lessons and informational materials on how to make healthy food choices at school and home. Highlights of the study include the following findings.
31 percent of students in the pilot schools, compared with 17 percent of students from two control schools, reported eating a vegetable with school lunch, after they had reported not eating a vegetable with school lunch at the beginning of the study.
This early success of the pilot program has led to the expansion to reach more than 2,000 students in grades two through nine over the 2009-2010 school year. Further expansion will soon bring RD coaches to Des Moines, Washington, D.C., and Chicago under the direction of registered dietitian Katie Brown, national nutrition education director for the RD coach project.
The American Dietetic Association Foundation is a 501(c)3 charity devoted exclusively to nutrition and dietetics. It funds scholarships and awards, public awareness and research projects and ADA strategic initiatives. Visit the ADAF site. For further information, check out the website of The American Dietetic Association. It's the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. ADA is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy.
For further information, see: Neurotechnology with Culinary Memoirs from the Daily Nutrition & Health Reporter.
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