When preparing for a test, people often pay close attention to the long-term aspects, such as studying, keeping healthy, and making sure everything is ready to take the actual test, such as purchasing calculators, notebooks, or other items needed for test-taking. Even the night before, many people focus heavily on their sleep, making sure they are getting adequate amounts of sleep before the big day.
What is less often paid close attention to, however, is the food eaten on test day, from breakfast, to snacks, to lunch, and how these foods can negatively or positively impact test performance. While it may not seem as important as thorough studying and a solid night of rest, the food you eat prior to and on the test day can impact the outcome of your test.
The Night Before
The night before a test, be sure to eat a protein and fiber-rich meal. Eating a large amount of carbohydrates or sugars (including alcohol) the night before a test can disrupt sleep, due to blood sugar changes throughout the night. Eating fiber and protein can limit the number of blood sugar changes that occur while sleeping, and can help you get more fulfilling, restful sleep. This will set you up for success the next morning.
In the Morning
The morning before the test, once again, avoid excessive amounts of carbohydrates and sugars. While a cereal commercial may have you believe that a bowl of cereal is a rich or heart-healthy breakfast, this food will do little to improve your mental state. Instead, eat a breakfast rich in protein, fats, and healthy carbs. A breakfast of scrambled eggs with avocado, whole-wheat toast, and beans, for instance, can be a wonderful way to prepare your brain. A bowl of yogurt with fruit can also provide protein, healthy carbs, and healthy fats to keep your energy levels, mood, and cognitive function stable. Individuals who subscribe to a vegan diet may want to consider a tofu scramble, beans on toast, or even a protein shake for breakfast, as all of these options can provide healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, in ideal quantities.
During the Day
If the testing site allows snacks, or offers a break for lunch, once again focusing on a balance of healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates will afford the best state for taking a test. Great snacks can include yogurt and fruit, vegetables with hummus, or even cheese and crackers, as each of these options has the potential to provide healthy and filling nutrients to carry you through test day. A healthy, filling, and supportive lunch can include salads with proteins such as beans, meats, or nuts, whole-wheat sandwiches, or baked proteins (such as chicken), along with a side of vegetables and whole grains.
Although test-taking can be nerve-racking, one of the best ways to support your mind and body on test day is to make sure you are getting plenty of healthy, supportive nutrients in the form of lean proteins, healthy fats, and rich carbohydrate sources, such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.