It is important to eat a thinking diet all of February to ensure that you do better in your exams. That’s because learning, your concentration levels and even your memory is definitely affected by what you eat. Our expert Kavita Devgan on eating right during the exam time.

One big myth is that carbohydrates lead to weight gain or make a person sleepy. It is very important to eat the carbohydrates every day and especially, during exam time, as our brain is a carbo-craver. Yet, please also understand that it’s a smart hog and is extremely selective about the type of sugars it craves and how it processes them. So, while it is important to give it a nice steady supply ensure that it chugs along smoothly at a steady pace, it is all important to choose the right kind of sugars and carbohydrates to eat.

Some carbohydrates calm behavior (the unrefined kinds), and others excite it. It is best to avoid excess of the highly refined, highly processed “junk sugars” found in candy, icings, syrups, packaged baked goods, and table sugar. These sugars lead to a high and low blood sugar roller-coaster, which affects moods and concentration negatively.

It is also important to eat the carbs which rate low on the glycemic index (GI). The rate at which sugar from a particular food enters brain cells and other cells of the body is called the “glycemic index” (GI) of a particular food. Foods with a high glycemic index lead to mood swings. Foods with the best brain sugars include the following: fruits; apples, cherries, oranges, and grapes have a low glycemic index. Even banana releases sugar slowly in the body and is a good choice. Fruits have a lower G.I than fruit juices, because the fiber in the fruit slows the absorption of the fruit sugar. Amongst cereals and grains: oatmeal and wheat are the best, spaghetti and rice come next. Corn flakes and sugar-coated cereals have higher G.I so they need to be avoided. Most vegetables are okay to have. As salads contain mostly foods with a low glycemic index, they are an excellent school lunch, contributing to maximum mental performance.

Another important thing to remember is that eating too much at any meal, regardless of the carbohydrate or protein content, seems to diminish mental performance. So stick to small, but filling meals. Huge and high-fat meals divert the blood supply away from the brain to the digestive tract and cause sluggishness and fatigue. Ideally, keep all meals low-calorie, high-protein, that also contains complex carbohydrates to stay alert and active through the day.

Also keep grazing at regular intervals. When there are huge gaps between meals, children simply run out of fuel and when blood-sugar levels go down, stress hormones kick in to raise it up again, and concentration gets negatively affected. Banana, roasted channa, carrots, fruits, roasted chivda, yoghurt, boiled egg, nuts and seeds are all good snack options. Avoid fried foods though, as they will make you feel drowsy and lethargic.

Finally, it is also important to hydrate your body enough. Besides a minimum 8 glasses of water, also eat enough water rich foods like fruits and vegetables, soups and broths, and make sure you sip enough water!