So there are plenty of helpful articles written about how to motivate yourself, get into a routine, procrastinate less, become proactive, and… I’ve decided to write one about food that powers my brain. Usually for writers (or students) it’s either caffeine, alcohol (apparently!), or energy drinks. And since I’ve cut off coffee, don’t drink alcohol, and most energy drinks are also another form of a temporary, unhealthy high like coffee, I’ve slowly found other alternatives. This is probably pretty obvious and common sense, but healthy eating is usually more associated with weight management, exercise and physical troubles and irritations we have in our bodies. It is often overlooked how much a healthy diet can affect your neurological functioning, fight off minor bouts of depression, anxiety and low moods. It also made me realise how different postgraduate-me is to undergraduate-me who counted choc chip cookies and red bull as a good form of energy! So, here’s some of the food that I find gives me sustained, healthy energy, helps me think, focus and churn out those words.
Bananas are good for A LOT of things. They sustain your blood sugar levels, by releasing sugars slowly into the bloodstream rather than in one go so you don’t get that dip. They contain magnesium, fibre, protein and vitamin B-6, things that directly affect your brain and nerves. They’re also good for mood and anxiety as they contain tryptophan (whatever that is) which is converted into serotonin (somehow). I’ve loved bananas since forever. I used to work part-time in retail and would literally eat one of these before a shift and keep going for the whole day. I also snack on one after a workout, be it yoga or squats, most definitely during study breaks, or pretty much whenever I feel like I’m lacking energy and instantly notice the difference.
Almonds, walnuts, and sultanas. In that order, those three are the ones I snack on just before I’m starting to study. In large amounts, mixed nuts can contain A LOT of calories, but in small amounts they can be brilliant. Supermarkets do sell small packs that go over no more than 100 kcal but you could just be wise and buy them in bulk and make your own (or control your hand). I’d definitely say go for unsalted nuts as that’s probably healthier, too. They contain all sorts of amino acids and vitamins that keep you alert and focused.
I know I said I don’t drink coffee, but I didn’t say caffeine. And by tea I mean simple old British PG Tips tea. Despite the fact that I don’t go around collecting different types and flavours of tea, I can’t live without drinking at least 2-3 cups of tea on a daily basis. Though the other variations of tea have their own benefits, I just can never find one that settles well with my fussy taste buds.
Home-made, fresh fruit with milk ones. Not the bottled ones with sugars and sweeteners. I normally make a combination out of banana, mango, strawberry or apple. But I think recommended is blueberries and avocados. Provide the same benefits as a fruit salad but a mash of them. Smoothies are calming, yummy, give you more energy, better memory, less inflammation and better cognitive function.
5. Fish oil and Vitamin B Supplements
This is more of a weekly or as you need thing, but I find that taking cod liver oil once a week or vitamin B gives me a good couple of days or so of sustained energy. Really if you have a healthy diet you shouldn’t feel the need to take these on a daily basis, despite what the labels say, and I tend to take more of the former than the latter as I eat plenty of meat already. Of course, alternatively, you could just eat some salmon or something. Seven seas is the one I eat as I’ve always found it works best.
6. Water and Hydration
I guess this doesn’t count as food, but keeping a bottle of water on the table to drink from while you’re typing out that essay/script/novel etc. is always a good idea. Your brain needs the oxygen.
7. Eggs/A Healthy Breakfast
I’m sometimes a few minutes late to places because I refuse to leave the house without having *some* sort of breakfast. Eggs are rich in protein, which again helps your cognitive performance. I feel more awake usually if I eat a boiled egg for breakfast. Having breakfast also speeds up your metabolism, therefore making you feel less sluggish, and generally more ready to take on the world.
This also doesn’t count as food but if you’re like me and end up chewing your lip/inside of your mouth when you’re thinking, then you should get a packet of gum. I find it helps me concentrate and produces more thoughts and that’s entirely down to the physical motion of moving my jaw that I imagine connects to my brain or something. Gum is actually pretty bad.
Needless to say, I still junk on pizzas and takeaway for my main meals.. What sort of food does everyone else snack on for brain power?