Tips for eating well during your exams

Mushrooms on toast, scrambled eggs and mushroom ketchup(h)

Eating the right foods during exam time can make all the difference to how the brain works - helping to boost memory, focus and energy levels. The Real Food team pooled together their favourite dishes, as well as helpful tips of foods and drinks to get you through the exam period.

Exam Fever Artwork1

1/ Oat and nut granola 2/ Lasagne 3/ Stir-fried broccoli 4/ Strawberry fruit salad 5/ Scrambled egg and mushroom on toast 6/ Tray-baked salmon 7/ Baked potatoes with Mexican beans 8/ Coconut noodles with broccoli 9/ Peanut butter and chocolate flapjacks 

Top Tips

1. If you feel like you’re going bananas – grab a banana. Not only are they energizing, but they also contain tryptophan, a chemical that makes you happier! On top of that, bananas help to lower blood pressure, aid digestion and boost brain function with their high levels of potassium. Try adding them to a honey and yogurt porridge or blending them in a fruity smoothie

2. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – we’re sure you’ve heard that one before. It’s true though, especially for any morning exams (no-one wants a rumbling tummy half way through). Eggsoats and fruit are filling brain-fuelling brekkies that will set you up for the day.

3. Cook in batches. When your head is swimming with facts and all your time spent hiding in the library, it’s not easy to cook fresh meals for dinner. There’s a way around this though: batch cooking. Try making a large stir-fry or pasta dish and then freezing the leftovers, ready for another night.

4. Even if you’re on a tight budget, there are still plenty of options for eating energizing and healthy meals. Jacket potatoes are full of fibre and a blank canvas for adding flavoursome toppings such as kidney beans and cheese. This chicken salad with kiwi and cashews is as speedy to prepare, as it is good value, and filled with fresh and healthy greens. 

5. Top up on Omega-3 fatty acids. These are essential to keeping our bodies healthy, helping in particular with our hearts and concentration. Omega-3 can be found in nuts, seeds and oily fish such as salmon. This grilled salmon dish with asparagus is a great option, while if you’re vegetarian try snacking on pumpkin seeds and soya beans. 

6. Eat your greens – in particular broccoli. This vegetable is a source of vitamin K, which just so happens to help fuel brainpower. A really quick and tasty way of incorporating this into your diet at exam time is through stir-frying it with oyster sauce, or adding it to a fresh Thai green curry.  

7. While coffee, tea and fizzy drinks may seem more of a tempting way to quench your thirst around such a hectic time, water is a far better choice. It helps with everything, including headaches, concentration, cramps, your immune system and even your happiness. Plus, it’s completely free. 

8. Step away from the sweets and instead pick yourself up a pack of blueberries. They’ve been proven to increase concentration and could even help with remembering things. On top of that, they’re packed with antioxidants, which will keep you feeling fit and healthy.  Try tossing them in a fruit salad, with strawberries and mint, then adding to natural yogurt. 

9. Before an exam, it’s good to fill up on whole grains. These give you energy through being rich in carbohydrates and also promote blood flow to the brain, helping with concentration. For breakfast this can be as simple as an egg on whole grain toast, or something sweeter like these bran flake pancakes.

For another helpful guide to eating well throughout the study period, take a look at our exam meal planner...and good luck! 

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