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Brain Fuel

March 5, 2012
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Hello! I hope Monday has been treating everyone well. I’ve just got back from sitting yet another professional exam in Bolton. I’m coming to the end of my qualification and only have two more exams left to take, as long as I’ve passed the last two I’ve taken of course. The whole of my right hand side is screaming at me – it’s actually hurting to type because my fingers are so sore! I write at a strange angle, which is perhaps the source of some of my shoulder problems. I’m sure that my chiropractor will shout at me when I go to see him on Wednesday.

I got to the hotel that was hosting the exam about two hours early (better safe than sorry!), so I had some time to unwind in the hotel bar, minus a glass of vino of course. There was a group of people doing guide dog training and it was amazing to see. It must take so much hard work to train the dogs, and considering they were still in training they were doing remarkably well around all the tempting lunch foods. I think that a certain naughty dog could do with that sort of training. Peter’s family puppy, Amos has apparently been up to no good (involving a giant chocolate cake and a trip to the vet).

I got to thinking today about how doing a three hour exam is a feat of endurance a bit like running a race, and just like a race I needed to get my fuelling and hydration right. There’s nothing worse than feeling hungry in the middle of an exam, and feeling stuffed isn’t much good either. I also get really thirsty in an exam, somehow I build up a sweat when I’m writing at 60 miles per hour.

I asked my Dad to pick up a prepared prawn and black rice salad from Sainsbury’s, but he couldn’t find it, so he bought the ingredients for me so that I could make my own. It was definitely better than the shop-bought version.


I started off with a bed of chinese leaves and cucumber dressed with some chilli-infused olive oil. I topped it with white and wild rice, peas, sweetcorn, red pepper, and prawns cooked in more chilli oil.

I also took so fruit with me in case this didn’t fill me up.


I ate the apple, but I didn’t need the clementines.

For during the exam I packed some mixed dried berries, almonds and walnuts.


Walnuts look like little brains, so I always think of them as being brain-food. I think all the healthy fats are meant to boost your mental power in some way, but I don’t think it’s an instant reaction. They did their intended job of staving off hunger though.

I’ve just refuelled with some pasta, carrots, basil tofu and goats’ cheese. I didn’t take a pic, but it was crazily tasty. I think basil tofu might be my new favourite food.

What do you eat if you know that you need to concentrate for a long period of time?

16 Comments leave one →
  1. March 5, 2012 7:25 pm

    Oh I’m sure you did wonderfully in your exam. I think you fueled perfectly. They say that fish oils and nut are supposed to be great brain food.

  2. Bronagh permalink
    March 5, 2012 7:30 pm

    I adore that basil tofu too! Had it for dinner lastnight & could easily have it again tonight if I could. I love nuts & dried fruit for snacking on, I could happily munch them all day long whilst sitting at my desk 🙂

  3. March 5, 2012 7:41 pm

    Nuts are definitely the best brain fuel 🙂 I love to snack on a handful along with some dried fruit for an instant pick me up!

  4. March 5, 2012 7:48 pm

    Gosh three hours is a long time to sit for an exam! I wouldn’t be able to manage!

    The guide dog training sounds amazing, I’m sure it was brilliant to watch. I completely understand what you mean about it being a matter of endurance, you definitely fueled properly though! Your salad looks so good, I haven’t had prawns in ages.

    I hope you felt it went well, it must feel good to almost be at the end of your qualification 🙂 I hope the appointment with your chiropractor goes well!

  5. March 5, 2012 8:21 pm

    I’m so glad I haven’t had to sit an exam in many many years, writing assignments is bad enough! You are fab to have gone through them all. I think banana’s are my brain food but I definitely agree on the walnuts, those omega fats are great brain food!

  6. March 5, 2012 8:41 pm

    ‘Walnuts look like little brains, so I always think of them as being brain-food.’

    That statement is absolutely adorable. I really don’t like Walnuts so perhaps that explains an awful lot!

    I’m sure you’ll have done brilliantly in your exam – if you can’t ace it then trust me, no-one else in that room would stand a chance. You come across as such a bright person, and dedicated to boot.


  7. March 5, 2012 9:33 pm

    Oh naughty Amos!!!! Hope he got over it OK, I’d heard chocolate was bad for poochies but clearly he missed that memo 🙂

  8. March 5, 2012 10:52 pm

    Gahh that is such a long time for an exam… I am sure it went so well for you though… you smaahhhttt 🙂 plus the brain fuel helped i am sure! Walnuts do look like brains, and I am always munching on them our almond for energy

  9. March 6, 2012 1:44 am

    I’m always really careful about what I eat on exams days so that i can stay concentrated! Something really filling that doesn’t make me bloated is what I stick to. Nuts are perfect for bringing on the go and having right before! 🙂

  10. March 6, 2012 2:28 am

    3 hours? You deserve a glass of wine now!
    You’re lucky that your clementines are still good – our season is officially over 😦

  11. March 6, 2012 8:30 am

    ive always relied on bananas as brain fuel, and carbs.

  12. March 6, 2012 9:21 pm

    Bless your dad, how lovely of him to get the ingredients so you could make it! Your snacks look like perfect brain food to me; hope it went well.
    I love the fact Amos has a blog; he sounds like he’d get on very well with my mum’s border collies… they’ve had at least one Christmas and one birthday cake in the same way Amos did – not to mention a few avocadoes, which they both love 🙂

  13. March 6, 2012 10:01 pm

    You definitely deserve a glass of wine post 3hr exam.
    I always used to have a big bowl of something hearty like porridge to fuel me through exams. I never took snacks into my Uni exams, I’m not sure that was ever allowed.

  14. March 6, 2012 10:10 pm

    Ouch that’s a long time. I love foods that don’t make me sleepy but still keep me from getting crazy hungry after sitting for long periods. Anything with healthy fat (like nuts) is a winner!

    I hope it went well!

  15. Errign permalink
    March 7, 2012 1:00 am

    I like to fuel up with healthy carbs and veggies, but then during the day, I splurge on chocolatey trail mixes and things like that!

  16. March 8, 2012 8:22 pm

    Well done on getting through yet another exam! I’m pretty bad at fuelling up when I’m studying for exams and, instead of eating and drinking well, I seem to just end up drinking lots of coffee! Bad I know, but this is the one thing that seems to stimulate me enough through the revision. During the exam, I drink lots of water and eat polos. I think these are old habits from uni re-emerging!
    I sat a 3-hour exam earlier this year and I’d forgotten how hard it is to write for that long. I had to keep shaking my right hand as it kept going numb! I also had my head leaning to the left for the whole 3 hours which resulted in me having a stiff neck with limited movement for the following few days. I’ve got another 3 hour exam coming up at the end of April so I need to sort out my posture and my fuel!

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