6 Nutrition Tips for Surviving Midterms

Healthy suggestions for making the most of your brain when it's needed most

It’s that time of the year again. Fall is full-on pumpkin, Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and—dun dun DUN—college midterms are here! For those of you who know a student—or you yourself!—that could use a little extra brainpower during the long study sessions and test taking, I’m here to save the day with my favorite brain-boosting study foods, plus some tips and tricks for acing those exams.
(P.S. – While these tips are particularly important during times when the brain is working extra hard—like midterms—they’re also great to keep in mind for your everyday habits!)
Read more: Brighten a college student’s spirits with a care package during midterms—order one online today!

Fatty Fish

You may have heard it before, but I’m telling you again omega-3 fats really are good for the brain. Keep your noggin filled with good vibes by eating at least 3-4 oz each week of fatty fish like salmon or sardines.  Your dorm mates or coworkers don’t appreciate you microwaving a filet of salmon? No problem. Try ready-to-eat foods like canned sardines instead, or—my favorite—packages of wild caught Alaskan salmon. Slap it on some bread with mayo and a little relish, and you’ve got a full-fledged feast that’s on-the-go convenient.  Thank you… your brain says.

Read more: How to grocery shop on a college student budget—the ultimate guide

Dark Chocolate

Do I really need to give you an excuse to eat chocolate?  Chocolate is rich in antioxidants and brain-boosting minerals like iron and magnesium.  Best of all, it has a little bit of caffeine to get you through a slow slump, and I would wager that snacking on such a treat would help ease some anxiety (exam-related or otherwise).


Nuts and Seeds

Take your snack a step further by pairing the dark chocolate with some nuts and seeds. When you eat a variety of nuts and seeds, you also get a variety of brain boosting benefits.  Case in point: brazil nuts are loaded with the antioxidant selenium; walnuts are rich in omega-3;  almonds are full of vitamin E; and pumpkin seeds are packed with zinc and magnesium.  Mix up some trail mix and munch away.

Read more: Try this Cocoa Almond Trail Mix recipe from our catering coordinator Kate Rudasill! 


Okay, so not exactly a nutrient, but listening to some calming yet stimulating music can help maintain focus—a particularly useful perk during long study sessions.  Besides, Mozart was pretty smart, so maybe listening to his music will make you smarter by osmosis.

Read more: Music is one way to achieve a healthier lifestyle. Here are six other healthy habits  

Coffee or Green Tea

A little caffeine has been shown to improve alertness and mental acuity, so an hour or so before heading into an exam (or, say, a major meeting) have a small cup of coffee or green tea.  Be cautious, however, about using caffeine to stay up late to study or work. It may interfere with your much-needed sleep.

Read more: Don’t forget about breakfast! Check out this recipe for Avocado Toast with Poached or Shirred Eggs.


One last trick to use is to pop a peppermint into your mouth before the big event (test, meeting, interview, etc). Studies have show that eating a mint is stimulating and can help improve blood flow to the brain.

While these tips will help sharpen your memory and ace that test, they’re also just great way to keep eating real fresh, real delicious. Don’t forget to visit a local Brookshire Brothers to pick up what you need—and good luck!!

Angela Larson is a registered dietitian (RD) who works with Brookshire Brothers promoting real fresh, real delicious foods and nutrition education to the community. She is also a clinical dietitian representing Woodland Heights Medical Center in Lufkin where she does outreach education on food and nutrition. Food is her passion, so Angela loves trying new recipes and exploring the more holistic side of nutrition. Angela loves to cook, garden, and spend time outdoors. In addition to the Brookshire Brothers blog, look for Angela's monthly articles in Charm East Texas.
Dorm Room Delicious

A Grocery Guide for College Students

While college has long been associated with fun and glory, it’s also been proven time and time again as a critical development stage in young adults. The patterns that college students establish in terms of love, work, and play largely become the patterns they keep for the majority of their lives, as established by psychologists such as Dr. Meg Jay (author of the bestselling “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter—And How to Make the Most of Them”). This idea fits with why students not only learn about their career fields in college, but also skills of professionalism, whether that means showing up to classes on time to composing mature emails.  Essentially, pathways in the brain become much more solidified after 30, which is why college is the ideal time to groom pathways of professionalism (rather than partying).
Groceries play a small but significant role in this stage. Many new college students have enjoyed their parents cooking for the majority of their lives, which can leave them slightly unprepared doing their own grocery shopping and cooking. Universities have largely addressed this issue by offering wonderful meal plans and dining halls, but this option can still leave students dependent outside of college. Meal plans and dining halls might be replaced with fast food and credit cards once a student graduates.
The point is, it’s good to practice habits of independence, especially when living in a dorm. Start now, and these skills can potentially carry a student through the years from campus and beyond. In regards to groceries, here’s what we suggest:

Make a list and plan ahead 

Planning is the master key to independence. There are different types of planning a student can do, but no matter what, she should always have a list when she goes to the store. Usually grocery lists are based on meal plans for the week, which helps prevent the daily stress of wondering what to do for lunch/dinner that day. A list can also keep students from spending money on random items they don’t need, plus it’s less likely they’ll have to make more than one trip out for food. Lastly, a list can help a student distinguish the necessities from the luxuries. Put the most-needed things at the top of the list (fruits, veggies, grains, etc), and save the luxuries for the bottom if there’s money leftover (snacks, desserts, sodas, etc). P.S. – Parents, send your student off with a gift card for groceries and gas!

Plan according to sales

This strategy is particularly ideal for a college student budget. Find a weekly ad and/or sign up for weekly coupons, and then plan your shopping around the offers. A Stouffer’s Lasagna is $2 off this week? That can be dinner for Tuesday night. Some people might even find this kind of planning helpful in making decisions. It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the meal planning (do I want ______ or ______ or ______ or ______ or ______ or…?), so when you’re limited to choosing things on sale, it takes some of the pressure off.

Plan according to practicality

Typically, the only “kitchen” a dorm room includes is a microwave and mini fridge. While this means you won’t be fixing filet mignon any time soon, there are still plenty of ways to be creative:
    • Some in-room breakfast options can include instant oatmeal, cereal, or a mix of granola and yogurt—all of which can be loaded with things like fresh fruit, honey, or cinnamon.
    • For lunch, you can keep it classic with sandwiches or make a microwavable quesadilla (with a side of chips and salsa!)
    • While Ramen noodles, Easy Mac, and Bagel Bites are traditional favorites, another convenient (and healthy!) dinner option is to pair a pre-cooked chicken with some frozen vegetables and instant brown rice. And when the weather is colder, there are many different great soups to try. (Read more: Cooking with Kate: It’s Always Soup Weather)
    • Don’t forget about non-food needs such as utensils, plates, cups, napkins, Tupperware containers, and more. Disposable items are always an option, but if your dorm room has a sink, consider using dishes you can wash and reuse (plus it saves money). Just be careful to not clog your sink with food! 

Plan according to nutrition 

Patterns of health are established in college as well, which means it's important to consider the nutritional values of your food. This type of planning is perhaps most important when it comes to buying snacks because that’s when most of us want to over-indulge. If nutritional value isn’t enough motivation, consider that healthy snacks (namely produce) are also often cheaper per serving than most unhealthy snacks, plus they’re versatile. For example, bananas can be eaten with cereal, peanut butter, or even with ice cream as a banana split. Some other great nutritional snacks include:
Refrigerated items: 
-      Apples
-      Carrots
-      Cheese sticks
-      Cherry tomatoes
-      Grapes
-      Hummus
-      Oranges
-      Sugar Snap peas
-      Cottage cheese 
-      Crackers
-      Dried fruit
-      Gold Fish
-      Pretzels
-      Trail mix
-      Microwave popcorn 
Visit a local Brookshire Brothers to get started today!