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Feed your brain for exam success

Exam Food

Don’t underestimate the power that feeding your brain the right stuff during the exam season can have on your performance. As revision piles up and late nights become the norm it is common to turn to energy boosting drinks, caffeine, junk food and processed food.

Follow our top tips below for improving your diet to increase your energy, concentration and memory.

Fruit

Fruit: Perfect as a healthy snack, part of a tasty salad or a delicious breakfast. With such a wide choice of options there’s no excuse for reaching your five-a-day!

  • High in vitamin C helping to boost your immune system, for the best boost pick up an orange or kiwi fruit!
  • Blueberries are full of antioxidants which help to protect the brain as well as memory-boosting flavonoids, the perfect choice during revision.
  • Bananas are a fantastic option to help boost energy and brain power before sitting down to an exam or assignment thanks to the high levels of potassium.

Top Tip:

Swap your chocolate bar or crisps for a piece of fruit as part of our Meal Deal for just £3.80. Available at both City and Headingley Campuses.

Vegetables: They're full of all the minerals, ions, vitamins and nutrients needed, these should play a key role in your diet.

  • Vegetables are high in fibre, causing energy in food to be realised more slowly avoiding energy crashes. If you’re not sure which vegetables to go for, carrots, broccoli and leafy greens are the perfect option.
  • Soups and smoothies are a great way to boost your veg intake – make a batch of your own soup for the week or head to the Food Court and grab a healthy soup.

Top Tip:

Head to the Salad Box in the Food Court and help yourself to a range of vegetable and salad dishes, but be wise with your choice!

Whole grains: We have all probably heard of the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ carbohydrates, but what does it actually mean? Complex carbohydrates, the ‘good’ carbs, allow us to concentrate on focus as they steadily supply us with glucose.

Try introducing whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, brown rice, sweet potatoes and porridge to your diet during exam season and you’ll also benefit from Zinc, great for helping your memory.

Top Tip:

Simple swaps from plain white pasta to brown pasta and white rice to brown rice are good ways to boost brain power.


Protein: This is the food group that keeps on giving (and there’s plenty to enjoy too).

  • Fish and seafood are fantastic for brain health thanks to concentration-boosting Omega oils. Salmon is the king of the fish when it comes to containing omega.
  • Nuts and seeds are a proven brain food and act as a perfect snack, sprinkled on a salad or crushed with a bowl or porridge. Combine with fresh fruit for a double dose of brain power.
  • We know milk helps bones but, did you know it also helps your memory, concentration and learning? Grab a carton of milk to have with your breakfast with a low sugar whole grain cereal.

Top Tip:

Breakfast is crucial so make sure you stop off at the Food Court for breakfast. Try The Egg Station, a great protein-packed way to start the day, in the Food Court every weekday from 08:00-11:00.

Water: Ditch high sugar energy drinks and keep yourself refreshed by drinking plenty of water (you should be drinking at least 1.2 litres a day).

  • If having a caffeine boost, make sure it’s in the day and don’t have a coffee too close to exam time as it won’t help you relax! You could also switch to low-caffeine options such as herbal teas, especially later in the day.
  • Make sure you carry a bottle of water around with you when revising, and during your exam

Top Tip:

If you want your water packing a punch, add some mint, ginger, cucumber or lemon to add a burst of flavour.


With a wide range of outlets across both our City and Headingley Campus you’re never far away from food. Check out where we are and what times each outlet is open, if you’re in need of a late night snack whilst in the library then don’t forget to head to the healthy snacking vending machine

Planning your food will be key to making sure you eat more of the food you need at this time of year, although don’t forget to treat yourself now and again too! 

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