Back to school packed lunches

Brain Food

 

According to a study by  Sorhaindo & Feinstein (2006), in order to optimize cognitive function and adequate concentration of school children, nutrition should be tailored to sustain glucose levels and minimize peaks and troughs throughout the day. 

As the start of a new term begins, the questions of how can I ensure my child is ‘keeping up’ at school arises. Below are some ideas of how nutrition could play a role in ensuring your child is staying focused and concentrating throughout the school day.

 

 

Top five Brain busting foods:

 

Omega 3 

An essential fat obtained solely from the diet (the body does not make it), this nutrient is linked to healthy brain function and development. Ensuring your child is eating enough Omega 3 may aid their cognitive performance at school. 

Where is it found? 

Omega 3 is found in foods such as Oily fish (salmon, fresh tuna, mackerel), as well as in almonds, sunflower seeds and flax seed. 

 

Blood Sugar Balance

A rollercoaster of blood glucose can be affected by what a child is eating, which can have a knock on effect on their behaviour. In order to keep your Childs energy balanced and give them the best chance to stay focused in lessons, try to keep their blood glucose levels even throughout the day.

How do I do this? 

Eating regularly is a great way to prevent blood glucose from falling, ensure your child has snacks at break time as well as lunch. The following foods will also help with blood glucose balance. 

 

Complex carbohydrates 

To balance blood glucose further and provide a slower release of energy and glucose from food, consider swapping the ‘white’ carbohydrates for the ‘brown or wholegrain’ variety.

What are some examples of this? 

Brown/wholemeal bread or pasta instead of white and brown rice rather than white rice. 

 

B Vitamins
B vitamins play an important role in aiding the bodies’ energy production, which in turn may help your child to stay focused at school.

Foods high in B vitamins:
Whole grains and pulses such as lentils and beans have high amounts of B1, but protein foods such as poultry and eggs are also good sources of B vitamins such as B2 and 3. 

 

Protein foods.

Ensuring your child has protein with each meal as well as their snacks may aid in balancing their blood glucose levels, this may also heighten their concentration at school. Protein also helps to ensure your child remains fuller for longer to keep them focused on lessons rather than food! 

Examples of protein foods:

Animal sources include: fish, poultry, red meat, eggs. Non-animal sources: nuts, seeds, oats, pulses, quinoa, chickpeas and yoghurt.

 

Concentration boosting lunch box ideas: 

 

 ‘Cold Pink Fingers’ 

Homemade poached salmon fingers coated in wholemeal bread crumbs. (Omega 3 and whole grains). 

 

 ‘Brain busting burrito’  

Wholemeal tortilla wrap with grilled chicken and vegetables.

Add some guacamole if your child likes avocado! 

 

 ‘Winter warmer’ 

Hearty lentil and vegetable soup with barley. 

Use a thermos to keep it warm until lunch time!

 

 ‘Tuna and wholemeal pasta salad’.

Throw in some peas and sweet corn for added vitamins! 

 

 ‘Wholemeal pita pockets’. 

Chose a protein of their choice, it could be ham or chicken and ensure you fill the pita with lots of vegetables that they enjoy eating. 

 

Protein containing snack ideas: 

 

  • Carrot sticks and hummus (chickpeas contains protein). 
  • Boiled eggs.
  • Piece of fruit and some seeds or a stick of cheese. 
  • Yoghurt with honey and fruit.
  • Home-made flap jacks (oats contain protein). 
  • Rice cakes with almond butter. 
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