What you feed your children can really impact their learning. As a parent, you want to give your kids a helping hand right from the start of this new academic year, to ensure they perform at their best, both physically and mentally.
Here are five nutrition strategies to support your kids’ health and happiness.
1. Start the day with breakfast
It is important that your child starts the day with breakfast. Skipping breakfast has been associated with low energy, lack of focus, poor concentration and lower grades.
2. Ditch the sugary cereals
Children often eat as much as half their sugar Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA = 24g = 6 tsp) at breakfast alone. Starting the day with a bowl of breakfast cereal means starting with a bowl of sugar. This is not doing your child’s health or brain any favours. Some of the cereals highest in sugar (per 30g) are:
- Aldi’s Harvest Morn Choco Rice – 12g
- Kellogg’s Frosties – 11g
- Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut – 11g
- Morrisons/Sainsbury’s Honey & Nut Corn Flakes – 10.9g
- Kellogg’s Coco Pops – 10.5g
Even those cereals that are labelled ‘good for you’ are full of sugar:
- Alpen Original Muesli – 6.9g
- Nestle Cheerios – 6.2g
- Kellogg’s All-Bran Bran Flakes – 6g
- Kellogg’s Special K – 5.1g
3. Choose healthy breakfast options
To sustain energy, optimise learning, increase academic performance, improve focus and concentration and support mental health, your child needs to start the day with a breakfast that will help keep their blood sugar levels stable. Here are a few ideas: boiled eggs with wholemeal toast soldiers, scrambled egg on wholemeal toast with avocado, wholemeal toast with nut butter and chopped banana, overnight oats, porridge with berries and nut butter, Greek yogurt and fruits, stewed apples with yogurt and sugar-free granola, homemade banana pancakes, muffin frittatas or homemade banana bread.
4. Eat the right kind of fats
The human brain is made up of 60 per cent fat so it is no wonder that fat plays an important role in your child’s ability to perform. However, the type of fat you feed your kids matters. The unhealthy fats, trans fats or hydrogenated fats most usually found in fast food, deep fried or processed foods cannot be utilised by the body and therefore are best avoided. The healthy fats found in fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, tofu, avocado and olive oil are needed at the right level to boost your child’s emotional and physical intelligence.
5. Avoid additives
Focus on real food as much as you can. When this is not possible and you reach for packaged foods, always check the labels. Some additives, such as artificial colourings, preservatives or flavour enhancers (E numbers), are especially bad for behaviour and brain health in children.
Christelle Page is a registered nutritionist and health coach specialising in weight loss. Visit Keep Calm Nutrition for more information on all her services.