Some people act as though their mind isn’t part of their body, rather like it’s an ethereal object, floating somewhere behind and to the left of their head. Of course, the brain is an organ like any other and a proper breakfast on your exam morning is an undemanding way to improve your performance.
I will share what I think is one of the top breakfasts for the day of an exam, given the criteria of energy and mental demands. I recommend that you get up early having had a good night’s sleep then eat early – this will give you a chance to properly digest your meal. Yesterday, my exam was at 10, I woke at 6:40 and ate as soon as I could.
You may have heard that most most Westerners eat far too much of this. Protein, of course, is fundamental to all manner of bodily functions, especially to thinking. Therefore, a breakfast which lends itself to best exam performance should contain a sensible amount of protein — nothing so large as a full English, because it takes a good deal of energy to digest in itself.
I recommend a sausage and a small slice of wholemeal bread and butter. Bertie Wooster will tell us that food has a motivational as well as a nutritional dimension – nobody can get me to start the day with a spoonful of whey-powder or a hummus sandwich.
Ideally, it’s best to grill the sausage, but for one eater this can be a bit of a faff. The way in which to do this properly is to lay foil over the parts of the grill which aren’t being used, stopping them from burning. If your housemates turn the grill into a horrorshow, you can fry your sausage gently in the black cast-iron pan which every individual should own.
Fry it on a gentle heat in oil, till the skin is slightly browned and you can see that the inside is light brown and opaque. At this point, chop the sausage down its middle – you’ll probably find that the centre is pink, which wouldn’t happen with grilling. Simply turn it over so that the inside is in contact with the pan and let it cook through.
Simple and Complex Carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates like starch release energy slowly, while simple ones like sugar make it available almost immediately. I find that a breakfast which contains both sorts works best, helping me to keep going through a three-hour exam (the brain runs on glucose, essentially, and carbohydrates are a good source).
Yesterday I had granola after my sausage, though muesli would have been best. The oats and rye grains in muesli contain complex carbs which will provide energy for a long period, while the papaya and dried banana contain simple carbs which should give you the energy to get moving immediately.
This was sufficient sustenance to keep me going until my post-exam pint at 1:15.