Getting back into the swing of things is hard after winter break. After a couple weeks of lounging around on your parents’ couch and doing absolutely nothing but eating and sleeping all day long, studying, paper-writing and problem sets all seem much more difficult than they did before break. Before you start popping espresso beans or guzzling energy drinks, though, try snacking on these foods instead—they’ll boost your energy, help you focus and increase your brain power:
Veggies like spinach and broccoli contain various B vitamins that improve memory, so try eating a salad before you have to memorize lots of notes. If salads aren’t your thing, try mixing some spinach into your pasta or piling some onto your turkey sandwich.
Fish is known as a brain food for a reason; it increases alertness and helps with brain function. A tuna salad sandwich or piece of salmon are both good choices for a pre-study session dinner. If you don’t like fish, try another high-protein snack like beef jerky to keep yourself energized and alert.
Good news! Everyone’s favorite food, chocolate, can actually make you smarter; now you’ve got an excuse to chow down on dessert. Chocolate contains flavonoids, which are antioxidants that promote brain health. Skip the white chocolate and stick to dark chocolate to keep it healthy.
Berries contain antioxidants that help protect your brain and keep it functioning at its highest level. Blueberries are especially high in antioxidants (they’re a “super food,” after all!), help improve memory and increase your learning capacity.
Whole grains increase your mental focus, so they’re perfect if you’re planning on pulling an all-nighter and don’t want distractions. Eat a whole grain English muffin, whole grain toast or whole grain cereal to stay concentrated on what you need to get done.
If you don’t have time to make yourself actual food, try chewing a piece of gum. Chewing gum has been shown to increase alertness, help wake up your brain and even reduce stress, so pop a piece before a big test or paper.
If you have to get back to the daily grind, you might as well have a full tummy as you head off to the library. Your stomach will be thrilled it’s getting protein and chocolate over energy drinks, and your brain will thank you, too.