So, the holidays are over and it is time to go back to school. Or, maybe your child is just starting? It is an exciting time and a lot of new things are happening. New friends, new teachers, new classes etc. And, the kids grow so quickly – both mentally and physically… This all leads to an increased requirement for energy, and therefore a healthy, well-balanced and varied diet is very important.
Your child’s diet will depend on their level of physical activity, but is also influenced by friends, family and media. So try to teach your child some healthy habits from the beginning.
Breakfast plays a key role
It is recommended that children always eat breakfast! Actually YOU should also always eat breakfast… but, for your children it is even more important.
When you eat breakfast you restore your glucose levels. This is essential for the brain to function at its best. So when you eat breakfast it can improve your memory and concentration levels so that you will perform better throughout the day. Breakfast also improves your mood making your happier and lowering your stress levels. Eating a well-balanced breakfast every day can improve attainment, behaviour and has been linked to improved grades. It simply offers the best possibilities for a great day at school.
The best breakfast is the one which combines good carbs and fibre with some protein and healthy fatty acids. Let’s mention a couple of examples here:
- Good carbs and fibres (Grapefruit, kiwi, apple, banana, melon, blue berries, strawberries, broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms, peppers, beans, wholegrain cereals and bread, oats, brown rice, noodles etc.)
- Protein (Eggs, fresh fish, chicken, yoghurt, low fat cheese, fresh milk)
- Healthy fatty acids (Almonds, nuts, olive oil, avocado, chia seeds)
If you don’t have a lot of time in the morning, try to prepare some of the breakfast the night before. This will save you time during a busy morning.
Make it easy to eat healthy during a busy day at school
Your children spend a lot of hours in school every day. Energy demands are high, both physically and mentally – and there is increased risk of hunger strikes, mood dips and failure to concentrate. Therefore, it is important that your children’s lunch is nourishing and provides good energy to last throughout the afternoon.
Maybe your children eat food from the school cafeteria or maybe they bring a lunch box from home, either way you can use these simple tips to optimise their lunch:
• Your children don’t want to spend a lot of time eating during their breaks – football, playtime and friends are just more exciting. So, make sure that their lunch is easy to access and eat. Pack small boxes with peeled and sliced fruit. Provide small portions with plenty of variety. Simply make it easy to eat the food.
• Pack lunches that are easy to carry, and avoid messy and mushy foods – children don’t like it when their food is mixed together.
• Use airtight containers and a freezer pack, so that the food won’t go bad.
• Involve your child in the preparation of their lunch.
• Lunch should – as breakfast – include both good carbs and fiber, some protein and healthy fatty acids. Children’s meals need to include a variety of foods to meet their nutritional needs. And be aware that as well as being very active, the growth spurt begins as early as 10-11 years. So, nutrient and energy requirements can be greater than those for adults relative to their body weight.
• Encourage your children to eat plenty of vegetables, legumes and fruit - as many different colours as possible.
• Limit saturated fat (e.g. fries, chicken nuggets, chips etc.).
• Limit the amount of sugars (e.g. candy bars, sodas, juice, cakes, crackers etc.).
• Choose water as the main drink.
Sleep is important too…
It can be tough going back to school and getting the routines into system. If you notice that your child is very tired after school, it is perfectly normal. Give them a chance to relax and clear their head when they get home. But if your child is tired all the time, it can be due to lack of sleep or exercise.
Make sure your children go to bed at a proper time every night (also during weekends). Children need a lot more sleep than you – or they – realize. And it is during their sleep, that their brain and body recover and grow.
Also ensure that your children are getting enough exercise and fresh air. Exercise releases endorphins, which help lift mood, increase metabolism, improve sleep and raise energy levels.
Did you know
That a child until they reach 18 years of age, will have their body weight increased by 20 times? Their muscles grow bigger, and their bones grow longer and stronger
That different coloured fruit and veggies often have different health benefits? So try and have as many different colours as you can
That eating fresh fruit is much better for you (and your children) than a glass of fruit juice? The juice can have up to six teaspoons of sugar and very little dietary fibre
That several reports show that improved nutrition in schools leads to increased focus and attention, improved test scores and better classroom behaviour?