23 wellbeing things. No. 22, Finding the right fuel

BBQ chicken wrapYou have very likely heard your body compared to a car engine at some point in your life, probably at school.  The analogy is a crude one but useful.  Car (like computers, exams and all else that humankind has ever created) work well only when the right things are put into them in the right proportions and kept topped up so that they never run out of anything they particularly need.  “Garbage in, garbage out” as the computing saying goes.  Cars need fuel that works well with the whole engine, burns smoothly to supply power over a prolonged period of time and leaves no ugly after-effects, while the car also needs plenty of water to keep its radiator working and the engine cool, as well as a few other things that are car-specific – every analogy necessarily breaks down sooner or later and this one broke just now.

So what does any of this say about us?  Like a car, we need slow burning fuel that will keep us alert and engaged for longer: unrefined foods, lean protein, fruits and vegetables are best.  Like cars, fun things happen when you upend an entire cupful of sugar straight into your fuel tank but the damage to your insides and concentration outside the moment is probably not worth the very temporary fireworks.  Like a car, we function best when nothing ever runs out.  Eating regularly and staying hydrated all the time is also therefore vital.  Dredging the last of your energy or dehydrating is very bad for you.  Water is best sipped throughout the day (it’s freely available to anyone with their own bottle in the Library) to keep you topped up and your mouth/throat moist.

As the ancient Chinese classic the Tao te Ch’ing advises, “When hungry, eat; when thirsty, drink.”  Listen to and obey your body, in other words: it knows what is best for you!

Eating for exam success during Ramadan

Religious strictures such as Ramadan can impose additional challenges on the examination period each year.  This BBC article discusses effective ways of meeting both religious and academic commitments without sacrificing your health.

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