With examinations right around the corner, students across the country are trying to make the best of their study time. While solving mock tests or studying through the day are almost de rigueur, nutritionist Anju Sood recommends adding eating right to the list.
“Stress could burn a lot of energy and students can’t retain or recollect what they have studied in that state. While stress-eating is unhealthy, eating just anything is not going to be helpful either. A balanced meal is essential.”
She recommends a meal with simple carbohydrates, lots of proteins, vegetables and dairy. Some parents tend to avoid carbohydrates to keep their children from dozing off after a meal. Carbohydrates are composed of fibre, starch and sugar. Complex carbs like rice, wheat, beans and bananas have fibre and starch that take longer to digest, that can make us lethargic. On the other hand, simple carbs are sugars that are naturally found in fruits, milk and milk products.
“Simple carbs burn quickly givingchildren the much-needed energy boost to study. Malt drinks — restricted to just once a day — can provide this. Smoothies with fruits, berries, soaked chia seeds and yoghurt/curd are a better alternative,” she adds.
Backing the old adage, she suggests that students start their day with a heavy breakfast and go on to have a lighter lunch and simple dinner. “Breakfast can include idli or dosa, eggs, fruits, a toast or sandwich. It is essential to keep a check on the carbs eaten during lunch; it has to be balanced out with proteins, sprouts and vegetables. For dinner, protein-rich and light options like chilas or moong dal dosas are ideal.” She also recommends vegetable or protein-based soups without the addition of cream.
While these meals balance necessary nutrients, it is likely for processed food to creep in as in-betweeners. Nuts and seeds are good alternatives; they provide vitamin E, unsaturated fats and are high in protein as well. These nutrients promote brain health and are filling. Fish or chicken kebabs — not fried but sauteed or air fried — are good snack options.
To ease the stress a little, parents sometimes prepare their children’s favourite dishes. Even if it is homemade, she reminds parents to use whole wheat bread, protein-rich vegetables like beans and peas and homemade butter. It is recommended to stay away from processed elements like maida, store-bought butter or processed cheese.
Apart from eating a balanced meal, Anju insists that students have to stay hydrated by drinking sufficient amounts of water, and take short breaks whenever possible. To reap the benefits of a well-balanced meal, she advises students to engage in physical or breathing exercises which improve the oxygen supply to the brain and makes them more energetic.
Here’s a simple smoothie that can both beat the heat and give students an instant energy boost.
Red grapes: 20
Cubed fresh pineapple: 1 cup
Fresh mint leaves: 3
Fresh lime juice: 1 tsp
- Blend together the grapes and lime juice in a blender.
- Puree until smooth.
- Add strawberries, pineapple, and mint leaves and mix together.
- Before you serve, add a dash of lime and some mint.
Recipe by R Vijayalakshmi