#feesmustfall:Sugar and Learning

By the third term of any academic year many students have a problem.  The consequences of diet choices are not just about clothes that don’t fit anymore.

Not all the damage is done by drinking (not that all the ciders and coolers aren’t laden with enough sugar to blow the mind more than the alcohol content itself!)

The problem is that students gain and lose weight while doing exactly what they are supposed to do, studying.  Those who can afford to,  arm themselves with sweets, chocolates, cool drink and even energy drinks. And then sit and stare at their books for hours.

Poor students are at a terrible disadvantage again as they are hungry. They try to get by on what they can afford to eat.

So NSFAS is spending R9 billion a year on 200 000 or so student bursaries, but the effect is diminished if nothing is done to look after a student’s diet while they study.

Unfortunately their efforts are not achieving the dot in the i in the word fix! What went wrong? How do some students end up accumulating weight instead of knowledge and others lose it and try to get it back by mainly living on processed carbohydrates, which have nearly the same effect as sugar.

Sugar is the big problem. You don’t have to be a diabetic to achieve a sugar rush.

Students study while they scoff sugar. This creates a short sugar upper, followed by a sugar low. And while you are on a sugar low the brain is achieving stuff all!

It is amazing that universities spend all those resources teaching but they don’t teach students how to learn. And learning starts with ‘get your diet right.’

What can be done?

Students need three decent meals a day. First off they need breakfast. Otherwise they are trying to learn on an empty fuel tank. Breakfast should ideally be egg, not cereal. Especially during exams. Cocopops have failed more students than professors.

A well balanced diet for lunch and supper is essential. And keep off the sugar unless it is followed by some form of exercise. Legendary, even a good bonk as long as it is protected!

We need to get a dietician in to give more advice to students. They need to know a lot more about their diets.

Today, I am a type 2 diabetic. I would be on insulin if it was not for trying to watch the banting diet. That’s not the point.

My sugar problems started while studying at Rhodes University in the 1980s. I became a Coke addict. And it wasn’t the white stuff either.


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