Eat your way to exam success

Apr 05, 2020
Accountancy Ireland Extra has partnered with the team at to bring you some top nutrition tips for the exam season.

Eating well is good for both your mental and physical health. When it comes to exams and studying, you want to be at your best – that means eating the right foods to ensure your concentration levels are where they need to be. We have put together some tips to ensure that you can eat your way to exam success.

Avoid skipping meals

No matter how rushed you are, try to avoid skipping meals – especially breakfast. Starting your day with breakfast gets your body going and maintains your concentration for the day.

Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables

It might sound like hard work, but try to add fruit or vegetables to every meal if possible. Simple ways to increase your fruit and veg intake include smoothies, adding banana to toast, and adding fruit to porridge or breakfast cereals.

Drink plenty of water

Try to drink eight glasses of water per day to keep your body hydrated. By drinking enough water, you’re also less likely to be hungry. If you’re not a fan of water on its own, add a sugar-free diluted squash.

Opt for healthy snacks

It can be tempting when studying to reach for unhealthy snacks. Snack foods such as cakes, biscuits, chocolate and sweets can be high in sugars and saturated fat, and low in certain vitamins and minerals. Instead, keep fruit such as apples, blueberries or bananas on hand for those moments you need a snack. Check out our article on swapping your favourite snacks for healthier alternatives.


The brain cannot function without the right energy, and it needs a constant supply throughout the day to ensure it functions correctly. Achieve this by eating wholegrains with a low glycaemic index (GI) such as brown pasta, brown rice or brown bread.

Things to avoid…

  • Avoid sugary snacks as they will result in a short-term high that will eventually come crashing down, leaving you feeling tired.
  • Don’t overdo the caffeine. Coffee and soft drinks such as Diet Coke may give you a short-term energy boost but in the long run, it will result in an energy crash that just isn’t worth it.
  • Avoid energy drinks like Red Bull, as they will result in a caffeine and sugar rush that won’t do your body any favours.
  • And lastly, when you’re studying, alcohol is not your friend. It will dehydrate you, disturb your sleep and wreck your concentration the next day. Not worth it!

This article was produced by, Ireland’s youth information website.

Five great brainfood-based snack ideas

The last thing you need right now is to spend time researching what to eat in the run-up to your exam, so we’ve done the hard work for you!

Here are our favourite brain food snacks, all of which are quick and easy to prepare...

  1. Hummus and carrot/celery sticks. You could make both from scratch or – to save time – pick up the end-product in your local supermarket.
  2. Apple slices with almond butter. The latter can be pricy but you’ll pick up a bag of apples for less than a euro, so it all balances out.
  3. Natural yogurt with chia seeds, banana, blueberries and nuts. This can also be a full breakfast, but it’s a superfood bonanza for the brain.
  4. Smashed avocado on wholegrain toast. A big snack that’ll keep you going for a couple of hours.
  5. Dark chocolate. A daily portion of dark chocolate has been found to improve blood flow to the brain, so treat yourself!