When we consider our children’s performance in school, we tend to focus on study skills and drills – sometimes only allowing sufficient time to drop in the quick meal. For optimum performance in school, we must focus on what our children eat, as this may have a bigger impact on their outcomes than we presume. Healthy eating helps them (and us) in more ways than we think.
Research has shown that brain development and function is aided by five components found in foods. These are outlined in the table below, along with their benefits in the classroom.
|Protein||Milk, cheese, fish,||Energy and motivation|
|Carbohydrates||Unprocessed foods, rich in fibre, vegetables||Energy|
|Fats (Omega-3)||Salmon, kiwi fruit, walnuts||Motivation, memory,|
|Vitamins||Vitamin E – dark, leafy greens, avocados, fruits, almondsVitamin B1 – fish, nuts, sunflower seeds, wholemeal bread||Improved cognitionImproved memory|
|Minerals||Iron – Spinach, red meat, dark chocolate, whole grainsIodine – milk, dairy products, fish, eggs, nuts, fruits, vegetablesZinc – red meat, sesame seeds, quinoa, shrimp||Improved attention, mental abilityMotivation, higher rate of learningMemory, cognitive stability|
Avoid foods with low nutritional value and those which have additives such as artificial colours, sweeteners, or flavour enhancers. Where possible, cook from scratch, avoiding packaged and processed foods.
A varied, balanced diet, provided regularly, helps our children to learn better and has a positive impact on their moods and behaviour.
And don’t forget water. The cheapest and easiest drink to access. Staying hydrated flushes our systems of toxins and waste products, helping to avoid fatigue and headaches.