STAYING STRONG WHILE STUDYING (Healthysnax Article)
AN ARTICLE FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO TURN INTO LITTLE MUNCHY MONSTERS WHEN IT COMES TO STUDYING!
Trying to stay fit and healthy. Trying to study. Trying to study stay fit and trying healthy to. Study and fit healthy trying and stay…Nope, the two do NOT mix!
…or do they?
I have been through this in high school, and I’m still going through this now. How do you ensure that your brain maintains that sponge-like quality as you try and absorb those never-ending black skinny letters on the boring blank pages? It’s like looking at a white wall covered in little black spiders with skinny legs…who wants that in their head? Letters…words…information…exams…No wonder we feel like going on little proctrastination-quests to the pantry and telling ourselves that we’ll die if we don’t have some Nutella or salty potato crisps…Sadly, we all have to go through it!
This is when substitution comes in. You know that feeling that you get after eating out at a big buffet or after turning into a magician and making all the food on the christmas feast table disappear? When you’re so full that you just want to sit down and think of ANYTHING but food? Well, this is what we have to do…
…Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to keep studying WITHOUT thinking ‘Hmm…I’m feeling hungry, and that cookie is calling my name. Oh wait, the cookie’s whole family is calling my name too!’ And then you eat the whole packet or sugary, fatty, unhealthy pieces of dough.
So, back to the ‘substitution’. The key is to keep yourself full by substituting all unhealthy study snacks, with healthy filling ones! But there are some little steps that you must take first!
- 1. Before you start studying, make sure that you are not thirsty! It’s so common that when we think that we’re hungry or when we have cravings - we’re actually just thirsty. So start off by filling your tummy with at least 2 cups of some kind of liquid. Sure, you don’t have to drown yourself in the stuff, but it’s important to achieve that ‘full and hydrated’ feeling. And yes, you may find yourself spending more time with your toilet than your pet dog, but I’m sure your dog will appreciate your efforts. I like to make myself a big cup of water, icecubes, 1/2 lemon juice and plenty of ice-cubes. And a straw. Everything tastes better with a straw. Except hot tea. Ouch! Don’t try that. So anyway, sip on this before and during your study sesh =)
- 2. Did you have a good meal before your study session? By this, I don’t mean just a little snack. I mean a wholesome breakfast, filling lunch or hearty and satisfying dinner. Your brain and body need that sense of ‘satisfaction’ before attempting any difficult task! Would you go and attempt to drive through the desert without the satisfaction of knowing that your car is 100% loaded on gas? If you would, this worries me and I am always here for you…
- 3. So now that your body is nourished and hydrated, make your study area seem like a lovely place to be in. If you like to study on your bed with your books all around you and laptop in front of you, then so be it! Try to stick some study flow-charts on the wall, add more soft cushions, turn on some quiet lyric-less music, spray your room with some fresh and fruity fragrance or burn some delicate incense, change into your comfiest of clothes, tie your hair back out of your face. Create a calm and relaxing atmosphere!
SO NOW, YOU SHOULD BE READY TO STUDY!
...15 mins of study, and OH NO! That block of chocolate is using its telepathic skills to send signals to your brain saying ‘Eat me. I will make you focus better! I’m yummy. I’m YUMMY!’
…Quick, time for action! Put down your pen, get up, take a big breath, walk over to the pantry, take that block of chocolate……..and punch it in the face!!! Okay, I wish we could do that. So here’s an alternative. Grab a large plate and make a healthy study platter. Here are some ideas on what you can put on it:
Savoury platter - For those craving salty, comforting foods:
- 2 tablespoons of low fat healthy dip (tzatziki, hummus, roasted capsicum dip, greek yoghurt, tomato and pepper salsa, guacamole, peanut butter)
- Raw veggies cut into bite sized pieces (cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, green beans, lettuce leaves, celery, cabbage, mushrooms etc)
- Piece of toasted rye/wholemeal bread topped with: cottage cheese OR cooked eggwhites OR 1/4 avocado OR tomato slices with herbs.
- 1 or 2 cups of air-popped popcorn (flavoured with spices of your choice - cumin, paprika, turmeric, salt, pepper are all good!)
- Palm-sized portion of poached/grilled lean chicken breast. If you’re really craving something salty, dilute 1teaspoon soy sauce with 1 teaspoon water and dip your chicken into it!
- Can of tuna or salmon - Omega 3 is really good for the brain, so oily fishies are really good when you’re in study-mode!
- Handful of 15 nuts (almonds are said to be the least caloric and healthiest, but other nuts are also good for you!)
- Ants on a log (celery sticks with PB and raisins!)
Sweet platter - For those craving dessert-like, sugary treats:
- Apple or pear slices sprinkled with cinnamon.
- 1 cup of frozen blueberries or grapes (or any other berries, but I think blueberries are the yummiest while frozen)
- 1 cup of frozen yoghurt (find a variety that is low in fat and sugar [or even freeze your fave normal yoghurt for 40 mins until it’s almost fully frozen] and eat it with a small spoon!)
- Chopped up fruit pieces dipped into a yummy dip such as….
- Plain yoghurt mixed with vanilla OR shredded coconut OR cinnamon OR nutmeg OR unsweetened cocoa with natural sweetener.
- Small bowl of your favourite breakfast cereal (one that’s low in sugar! Don’t add milk, because this will make you finish the cereal quicker and you’ll still feel hungry!)
- Airpopped popcorn mixed with 1teaspoon ovaltine mix + natural sweetener (see recipe on healthysnax)
- Strawberries dipped in low-sugar dark chocolate.
Add about 3 of these options to your platter and proudly strut back to your study area.
…45 mins of study later…Okay, my brain can’t take it anymore. I’m going crazy. I’m not hungry. I’m not thirsty. I’m not craving anything, but I just can’t keep studying!
“Go do some exercise!!” your dog says to you…
Yep, you’re definitely going crazy if you think your dog is talking to you. But if your dog actually DID speak to you, then it would be right, and would deserve a yummy treat. Remember though, YOU’RE not a dog, so don’t always reward YOURSELF with food!
Exercise is a really good way to de-stress and distract yourself! Grab your iPod and make a playlist of about 10 songs (that’s about 30-40mins of exercise!) Now either go outside and breathe some fresh air while walking to your tunes, or jump on your treadmill if you have one! If not, then why not do some housework to music? Yep, housework is a great form of physical activity - dust some shelves, sweep the floor, rearrange some furniture, clean our your drawers, recycle some paper…Or, if you have enough willpower, why not take this opportunity to participate in your favourite sport a bit! Call a friend for a match of tennis, hit the local pool and swim some laps, whip out your Zumba DVDs (or just get some vids from youtube!), get the soccer ball out, prepare yourself for some yoga….
…and then it’s back to the study!
Okay, now I don’t guarantee that this article will be helpful to EVERYONE, but if it’s at least helpful to ONE person out there, I’ve achieved my purpose and I could not be happier =)