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Nutrition for studying and exams 

Like a car, students need fuel to study efficiently and perform their best in an exam. You need to give yourself the best chance to do well in an exam and eating the correct food before an exam or during study will maximise those chances. 

There are certain foods that are known to increase brain power and give long lasting energy so that you can write as much as possible in that long exam.


Study Time

Tip: Create a study timetable and build in meal/ snack times between sessions.

Why? The brain uses 20% of the body’s energy levels. Maintaining glucose levels in between study sessions will increase concentration levels. Eating regularly throughout the day will keep glucose levels up. 


Follow these quick and easy study snack ideas below 

Cheese & Tomato Toasties 

Grab some toast, cheese and tomato and follow

this 0.25 second video to prepare a healthy snack

to help you concentrate more


Recipe: Cheese and tomato on toast



Peanut Butter Bagel 

Follow this 0.26 second video to

prepare your wholegrain peanut butter

bagel that is full of fibre, protein,

and healthy fats.

Recipe: Peanut butter bagel

Early Morning Exams 

Tip: Do not skip breakfast. If you are unable to eat – try a smoothie instead. Make sure your breakfast contains protein sources such as eggs, nuts, seeds, and live yoghurt. Protein will keep energy levels sustained and keep you feeling fuller. 

Why? Lack of energy can result in inability to recall, focus, and remember key facts, dates, etc. during the exam. 

Why not try some of the video recipes below for a quick and easy breakfast.

How to make Porridge

This 0.35 second video shows how to make a quick and easy Porridge breakfast.


Recipe: How to make porridge

How to make an omelette 

This 0.40 second video highlights how Omelettes are a very quick meal to make and are extremely healthy, especially if you add vegetables.

Recipe: How to make an omelette

Afternoon Exams

Tip: Eat a lunch that has a balance of protein and carbohydrates. Examples include chicken and pasta, tuna wrap, vegetable soup with a wholemeal scone.

Why? Eating a carb and protein together slowly releases energy over an extended period of time. This allows you to get through a long exam and still feel fresh.

Try out the recipes below for a tasty lunchtime meal


Orange & Carrot Soup 

This 0.40 second video shows a tasty carrot soup which makes a great lunch, and it can also be frozen for later.


Recipe: Orange and Carrot Soup recipe






Wholemeal Scones: 

This 0.50 second wholemeal scones video will help you prepare a scone that is as tasty as any other. These are a better source of fiber and provide more slow-release energy than white scones so keeping you feeling fuller for longer.

Recipe: Wholemeal scones recipe

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What foods provide the best

fuel for our Brains for studying & exams?

Healthy brain food for studying includes:

  • Protein : Meat, fish, eggs, poultry, legumes, nuts and seeds, dried beans and lentils, dairy products and soy products. Protein helps your brain send messages to the rest of your body, and helps create brain chemicals that improve your mood. Nuts are nutrient-dense and contain vitamins and minerals essential to brain health,

  • Antioxidants: Fruits and veggies, including berries, and pomegranate juice. Antioxidants can help delay or even prevent certain effects of ageing on the brain. Try and get a good variety of colours in your fruit and veg. Beets for example are rich in nitrates, which may help improve blood flow to the brain, nerve cell communication, and overall brain health. Studies have linked beet juice consumption to improved performance on tests.

  • Omega-3 : Oily fish, flax seeds and flax oil, and eggs, chicken and beef. Omega-3s have been found to help your brain work harder and improve your mental health. Eating fish may also help slow mental decline.

  • Dietary cholesterol : dairy and egg yolks. Your brain relies on cholesterol to create the cells that send messages to the rest of the body.

  • Monounsaturated fats: avocados, nuts, olive oil, canola oil and peanut oil. Food that contains monounsaturated fats can improve your memory and help your brain work harder, better, faster, stronger.

  • Caffeine (moderate amounts): tea, coffee and dark chocolate. In small doses, caffeine can help you feel refreshed and more focused. Chocolate and cocoa products are loaded with flavonoid compounds. Consuming cocoa products may help increase blood flow to your brain and improve your memory and reaction time.

  • Water : Your brain is 73% water, and water is vital to keeping your body (and brain) in tip-top shape.

Read full article here

More Info: 9 top brain foods for studying and exams.

Spun-Out: 10 super foods to include in your diet




Here are our top tips for using food to nurture yourself and stay healthy, happy… and sane!

Eat Regularly

If you go long periods of time without eating, your body can’t function at its best. Skipping meals can result in fatigue and/or headaches. Include a balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats throughout the day to provide your body with what it needs. Having a balance of these helps keep blood sugar levels stable and will help you feel more energised.

Drink Water

Drinking water gives you energy and keeps your cells functioning at their best. Remember, thirst can be mistaken for hunger, so keeping yourself hydrated might stop you eating more than you need.


Eat the Rainbow

A way to ensure you’re getting a wide range of nutrients is to include whole foods of every colour in your diet: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple and even white every day. Non-perishables like tinned foods are included in this, also.

Avoid High Sugar

When you’re feeling a bit down, it can be tempting to reach for the sweet treats. However, the quick boost of energy obtained from sugary snacks soon leads to a crash, and then you’ll feel even worse. Instead, look for slow-release energy: turn to whole grains or whole fresh fruit combined with some protein and fat. Why not try an apple with a few pieces of cheese.

Plan Ahead

Meal planning reduces time spent in the supermarket and makes it easy to use everything you have in the house. At the start of the week, try to create even a rough outline of what you want to eat in the days ahead, combining cupboard supplies with fresh items.

If you would like to learn more about eating healthily check out all of these links,


check out this Eating to Live well module here 

More recipe suggestions can be found here

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NUI Galway Student Cook Book


Compiled by the Health Promotion & Wellbeing Team, Student Services. The purpose of this cookbook is to relieve student’s stress in at least one area food. This cookbook is filled with quick, easy, affordable and nutritious recipes designed for busy students. Download your copy by clicking on the image below

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'Cooking with Siobhan' 

Download the cookbook, produced as part of the Hub Wellness Wednesday Campaign March 2020, at this link:

Homemade Banana Bread

  • 280 g self raising flour (or plain flour and add 1 tsp baking powder)

  • 140 g soft brown sugar

  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

  • 110 g walnuts

  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg or ginger

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • 200 g butter (melted)

  • 3 eggs (beaten)

  • 3 bananas (mashed)



  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees (gas mark 4), grease and line a loaf tin

  2. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl

  3. Mix the wet ingredients in another bowl

  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture

  5. Pour into the greased loaf tin (mixture will be runny)

  6. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

  7. Test with knife (if knife comes out clear your bread is cooked, if not replace back in the oven for a few more minutes)

  8. Enjoy warm with some low fat custard!

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