September 28, 2015

Test Anxiety and Diet

One of the best ways to reduce test anxiety – or any form of anxiety, for that matter – is to be careful about your food intake. Certain foods can greatly increase anxiety, regardless of its source. Others have a more calming effect on both the body and mind.

It is also important not to fast or drastically change your normal meal schedule before a test. Not eating can cause problems as serious as those caused by eating foods that induce anxiety.

Foods to Avoid:

If you find that you suffer from test anxiety, start removing anxiety-inducing foods from your diet several days before the test. Foods that can increase or possibly cause test anxiety include:

  • Caffeine. The detrimental effects of caffeine often become even worse when students use large quantities of caffeinated sodas or coffee to stay awake during long study sessions. Such beverages can leave you both agitated from the caffeine and tired from a lack of sleep. Avoiding cramming can reduce your dependence on caffeine.
  • Sugar. Another food staple of many students is sugar, which can also significantly increase anxiety levels. Processed sugar, common in snack foods and sodas, creates an energy rush that is soon followed by an energy crash. Sugar can also make you jittery and nervous, and depression and anxiety can set in after the sugar rush wears off.
  • Alcohol.Alcohol can also have an uncomfortable rebound effect. Drinking too much before the test might initially quell your anxiety, but you will pay for it the next day. Drinking while studying is a bad idea as well, since alcohol will reduce your ability to retain information.To help curb your anxiety level on a permanent basis, you should consider reducing your intake of caffeine, sugar, and alcohol on a regular basis or removing them from your diet completely. You will feel better in general, and your body will thank you.

Maintain Your Normal Food Intake

Appetite disturbances are a common side effect of test anxiety. Test anxiety might cause you to feel nauseated, which makes it hard for you to eat. Some people do just the opposite and binge on comfort foods.

Neither of these is a helpful approach. As you approach your testing date, try to stick to your normal meal schedule. Do not skip meals or eat too many snacks while you are studying for your exam. Regular, healthy meals will give your mind and body the best chances to function properly on that all-important test day.