Reviewing for the UPCAT while eating potato chips and drinking softdrinks? Your child may not be as ready for the UPCAT as you think. Dieticians know an important part of test preparation that often gets ignored: food.
Food to Help Your Child’s Brain
For optimal brain function, you can’t rely on a single food or even a handful of ‘super foods’ for a few days before the UPCAT.
According to dieticians, foods that contain less-processed forms of carbohydrates, such as whole grains, beans, whole fruits (not juice) and starchy vegetables, will provide a steady source of energy to the brain. When the sources of carbohydrates in the diet are sugars (as in cookies or cakes made with white flour), the levels of sugar in the blood are less stable, thus affecting brain function.
Adolescents like your child need foods from all food groups.
Your Child Must NOT Skip Breakfast
Diet experts and food researchers found that breakfast has a significant effect on academic achievement. You don’t want your child to work on old energy storage from the day before. It is important to have a fresh supply of carbohydrates each day.
If your child doesn’t refuel his/her body in the morning, your child will have to draw fuel from his/her own energy stores. When using reserves, your child’s body tries to save as much energy as possible; and all nonessential functions will not receive much fuel. So creative thinking, memory, attention span, all suffer.
Dieticians recommend breakfast that includes fruit, fiber and protein. Use fresh fruit, preferably, or canned fruit. Cereal with high fiber, fruit and milk is a great way to renew energy supplies for the morning. If your child is not a breakfast eater, help him/her build up his “breakfast endurance” before the UPCAT. So from now on, never let your child skip breakfast!
Advise your Child to Eat His/Her Snacks While Taking the UPCAT
The UPCAT takes nearly four hours, not counting the waiting time before the test. Being at the UPCAT testing center for five hours is not uncommon.
That’s a long time to go without nutrition. Fortunately, UPCAT takers can eat their snacks anytime they want while taking the test. So advise your child to eat their “baon” in the middle of the test no matter what, even if he/she doesn’t feel hungry.
What snacks are recommended? The combination of a high protein, low carbohydrate, and high tyrosine food is likely to jumpstart the brain. Milk and yogurt have this combination, so taking a carton of ultra pasteurized milk, which does not need to be refrigerated, or a light yogurt in a small cooler, would be ideal for a snack. Also consider soy nuts or other nuts; fruit like apple; egg or chicken sandwich and bottled water.
Some students who feel they may need a boost may benefit from the popular energy drinks or sports drinks. It is recommended, however, that if a student opts for this route, to drink a beverage your child has tried before and knows he/she enjoys and tolerates well. A caffeine jolt could pose problems for the uninitiated.
Research suggests that eating foods with trans fats, which includes pastries, candies and all fried foods, will deteriorate cognitive function. Eating a doughnut in the morning before the UPCAT may give you some quick energy, but it definitely will not help you think clearly.