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Eating your way to a great finals week!

Eating and studying

Setting yourself up for success!

As finals week approaches, it is important to consistently fuel your body and brain with healthy foods to set yourself up for your best performance. Below are some tips to get you off to an optimal start and finish.

Weeks Before Finals:

Food and Drinks to Eat:

  • Try consuming lots of foods that makeup the Mediterranean Diet. The Mediterranean diet not only has been proven to keep your heart healthy, but also has been linked to improvements in brain function! The essential (cannot be made by the body alone) fatty acid like Omega-3s that are common in the Mediterranean Diet are responsible for removing antioxidants from the body that decrease brain function. Additionally, foods like fresh fruits and vegetables and whole-grains have antioxidants that help the brain to continue thinking smoothly.

Foods in the Mediterranean Diet that Improve Brain Function:

  • Salmon, trout
  • Flax/Chia seeds
  • Blueberries
  • Brown Rice
  • Any fresh fruit or vegetable
  • Almonds/Walnuts
  • Olives/Olive oil
  • Spinach
  • Tea
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Apples
  • Barley
  • Quinoa

The Day and Night Before Finals:

Foods and Drinks to Have:

  • Day Before: Remember that the brain’s best source of energy comes from glucose from whole-grain carbohydrates. Do not place yourself on a radically different diet than you are used to before test day. Continue to pack snacks and meals that follow the MyPlate model and contain some of the foods from the Mediterranean Diet list. Allow yourself to have a coffee or green-tea drink the day before the exam.
  • Night Before: It is crunch time. Ensure that you are well fed and energized while you’re studying. Consider what time your final is and whether or not you will have time to get at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep before. Remember that late night caffeine consumption will decrease your sleep quality. Decreased sleep quality the night before an exam will not set you up for your best performance. Try substituting your favorite coffee or tea with a decaffeinated version instead.
  • The Morning Of: Wake-up rested and ready to go. Give yourself enough time to eat a meal with plenty of whole-grain carbohydrates, fruit, and protein to give your brain the best nutrition boost as possible. Drink your water, as hydration also helps the brain stay happy and more alert. For more information on adequate water intake, click here. Below are some examples of food choices giving you the brain fuel to more effectively focus and retrieve information.

Weeks Before Exam:

  • Roasted Salmon with asparagus and quinoa
  • Greek Salad with peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and feta cheese
  • Yogurt and fruit smoothie
  • 1 Handful of almonds, walnuts, or brazil nuts
  • Apple with nut butter and mozzarella cheese

Day and Night Before Exam:

  • Oatmeal with fruit, milk, and chia seeds
  • Tuna Melt with spinach, tomatoes, and cucumbers
  • Chicken salad with grapes, avocado, spinach, celery and onions
  • Deli meat on a whole-wheat tortilla with hummus, spinach, and tomatoes

Morning of Exam:

  • 2 Whole eggs on whole-wheat English muffin
  • Piece of toast with apple slices and nut butter
  • Yogurt and fruit smoothie

Set yourself up for success by eating well, studying well, sleeping well, and ace those exams!



Moore, M. (2017).  4 types of foods to help boost your memory. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.               

Roizen, M. (2015). Food for brain health. Cleveland Clinic.                                                                           

United States Department of Agriculture. (2018). What is Myplate? United States Department of Agriculture.