With the exams fast approaching, it is going to be a hectic season for everyone involved; the kids, parents, and even the teachers!Kids will be most stressed out during this time and so could be the parents. Parents will be concerned that with the long studying hours, children will feed on the skewed diet and ultimately result in ill-health for their children! Children often get into the habit of glugging coffee and gobbling take-out pizza, in order to avoid wasting time on food preparation. Good nutrition often slides way down on the priority list, which however is very important to stay healthy if you are studying for finals. But, if you need to ace those tests, good nutrition is helpful and should be part of your study plan. Remember , if your brain gets better nutrition, the better you’ll study. It’s a no-brainer.It is important that children eat right and don’t give in to the temptation of eating junk food.As the saying goes ‘you are what you eat’? In that case, if during exam time your child feeds on easily available junk food, then their brains will perform poorly. It isn’t the best scenario for exams that are looming close. Parents should plan out a good diet for exams with the following food groups incorporated wisely. Eat or incorporate these in innovative recipes Eat more whole grains like oats, brown riceFruits and vegetables.Feed on nuts and seedsDrink plenty of waterHigh-protein foods will provide energy and increase metabolism, especially foods like meat, fish, eggs, dairy, pulses, sprouts, nuts etcTips to eat right during exams Eat diet rich in vitamin and minerals to meet your daily requirements that will make it much easier to perform better in exams. Diet rich in Iron and B vitamins are especially important to maintaining the physical and mental energy necessary to study well.You may stock red meat, cereals and spinach; Another good meal idea is chili that contains ground beef and kidney beans. High quantity of B vitamins can be found in whole-grains, wheat germ, eggs and nuts. Fish and soy are other foods that are said to help boost your brain by providing the nutrients it needs. Avoid chewable dietary supplements as it is not a meal. There is no doubt that dietary supplements are good, but it is better to take real food. Eat oranges that are not only rich in Vitamin C, but also fiber, beta carotene and other minerals — so it can’t be replaced by a pill. If you are going for a long study -session or heading for the library, packing whole-food items like apples, bananas, clementines, carrot sticks or dried apricots will do a lot of good. Make an habit to eat at regular intervals. The advantage is that eating regular meals helps maintain stable nutrient and energy levels, curbing the temptation of empty-calorie snacks. Eating big meals will make you feel clumsy and tired; it also keeps on turning in your stomach. During exam time, avoid eating the standard three big meals-a-day that slows you down mentally and physically. Instead, go for smaller meals, like toast spread with peanut butter, hummus or tuna, or a piece of cheese with fruit. Never skip breakfast. While much is said about the reasons to eat breakfast, less known are the best ways to eat smart in the morning. Coffee and a donut just don’t cut it. The idea is to get some protein, calcium, fibre and a piece of fruit or a vegetable in there. So, a bowl of cereal with milk and a piece of fruit would do the trick. Or try a cereal bar with milk. We have some additional quick breakfast ideas for you to enjoy! Fruits are your best health buddy Fruit ranks high among the best foods you can eat for your brain. Blueberries (which can be bought frozen in bags) get a lot of attention because they contain powerful antioxidants and other nutrients. The natural sugars in fruit offer clean energy, so you don’t experience the crash that follows consumption of refined sugar. Choose powerful vegetables. Not all vegetables are created equal. The darker the color, the higher the concentration of nutrients. For example, spinach has more to offer the mind and body than iceberg lettuce. Other great vegetable choices include bell peppers, broccoli and sweet potatoes. Smart snacking can enhance studying. Snack smart while studying and you may find that you retain more. Try to get two food groups into your snacks to balance the nutrients and keep your blood-sugar level stable. Some smart snack examples are banana with peanut butter, a small baked potato with cottage cheese, or an English muffin pizza. Gather simple recipes for nourishing foods. It’s easy to feed the brain well. No-fuss recipes let you eat to succeed, without taking too much time. Here are four ideas:Combine scrambled eggs with toast, cheese or salsaSpend 15 minutes preparing chili and continue studying while it simmers for two hoursStay well hydrated. Choose your beverages well, though. Caffeine and sugar should be kept to a minimum. Since too much caffeine can make you jittery, try to drink moderate amounts: 400 to 450 mg per day, the equivalent of 2/2.5 cups. Better choices include water, fruit juice, milk, and anti-oxidant-rich green tea. With exams round the corner, children and parents come under pressure and stress. Can what you eat make a difference to how you cope with stress. The answer is a YES. Studies suggest that what you eat can affect your mood, alter stress levels, irritability and promote calmness. Further, it has been reported that unhealthy meals can increase stress levels. Another study indicates that students under the influence of academic examination stress show significant increase in food intake, high fat and sugary snacks, which can be counter-productive. Further, increased stress creates a greater need for certain essential nutrients like water soluble vitamins- Vitamin B, C and minerals like zinc. The levels of vitamin C can fluctuate depending on the degree of physical and emotional stress.Nutrients such as vitamin C, B6, zinc, magnesium, potassium, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) and amino acid tyrosine are required for synthesis and proper functioning of adrenal hormones- the most important stress fighting hormone. By following some simple tips, one can protect oneself from faulty eating during stressful times and promote calmer state of mind. How to beat stress by eating right Eat smaller frequent meals to ensure a steady stream of energy and have a calming effect on the brain. Avoid large meals. Choose adequate amount of fresh fruits and vegetables like amla, citrus fruits, tomatoes, green peppers, green leafy vegetables, kiwi, broccoli, and strawberries to ensure good vitamin C status. Minimise intake of white flour, white rice, sweetened beverages and sugar. Choose whole grains like oats, barley, brown rice and whole wheat; pulses, nuts and seeds, low fat dairy, seafood, lean meats, green leafy vegetables and wheat germ to ensure adequate intake of vitamin B and zinc. Avoid junk food and poor quality fat (hydrogenated- trans fats). Snack smart on fresh fruits, dry fruits, honey coated nuts, seeds, roasted whole grains, soups, salads, hot chocolate, almond milk or yogurt, to prevent swings in blood sugars and cravings. Drink plenty of fluids and remain well hydrated. Green tea, jasmine tea and cammomile tea help calm the mind. Take tea, coffee and caffeinated beverages, including colas in moderation. For those looking for memory enhancing techniques, nourish your brain with healthy food rather than gulping memory pills.Memory boosting nutrients include:Antioxidants like vitamin A, E and C found in natural foods like eggs, carrots, brocolli, fish, nuts, green leafy vegetables and fruits. They reduce the cell damage in the brain.Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish, mustard oil, mustard seeds, methi, urad dal, rajma, soybeans, lobia, walnuts, bajra, and flaxseeds (alsi) are good for brain as well as good skin and heart health. Flaxseeds are the richest plant source of omega 3 fats.Vitamin B1: It keeps the nervous system healthy and is used in the biosynthesis of a number of cell constituents, including the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and gamma-amonibutyric acid. It also aids memory and learning. Good sources of vitamin B1 (Thiamin) include rice bran, wheat germ, whole wheat flour, barley, maize (dry), eggs, cow’ milk (skimmed, whole), khoa etc.; wheat and rice bran being the richest sources.Vitamin B12: It is needed for the proper functioning of the central nervous system. It improves concentration, memory, balance and relieves irritability. Foods of animal origin like egg, lean meat, low-fat milk etc. are good sources of animal origin. Plant foods containing this vitamin include spirulina (blue green algae).Folic Acid: It is essential for the body’s clearance of homocysteine, an amino acid that causes cognitive decline and preserves cellular health. Green leafy vegetables, broccoli, pulses, wheatgerm form important sources of folic acid.It is common knowledge that exams are always accompanied with stress. With the increased stress,there is an increased demand for certain water soluble vitamins like Vitamin C and B-complex. The levels of vitamin C in the body varies greatly with the physical and emotional stress, which dips when subjected to a lot of stress. Scientists in a major study found that students during exam who experience stress may have an increased craving for high fat and high sugar snacks. There is also the physiological demand of certain nutrients like Vitamin C, Zinc, magnesium, potassium, and the protein tyrosine shoots up. These nutrients are required for the generation of adrenal hormones or the stress-fighting hormones. Understand that good nutrition plays a major role, especially during exam time when the brain and body are under such extreme stress. Ensure to have the right diet and exercise routine to get energy and improve your mental alertness, and avoid poor diet that’ll only make you feel sluggish and jittery.