Kids use up a lot of energy and we know that fuelling their bodies is so important to keep them healthy and going all day. Fuelling their minds is just as important. The brain uses glucose as an energy source so the correct foods as part of a healthy, balanced diet will make sure kids stay focused in school and throughout the entire day. Here are some foods to include at meal times which I like to call brain superheroes!
1. Wholegrains– these are a low glycaemic index food which means that when they are eaten they release glucose slowly throughout the body. This is good for our brains as it means we avoid a sharp burst of energy and focus and then a slump and the inability to focus. Try to choose mostly wholegrain sources of breads, cereals, rice, pasta etc for meal times to maintain levels of concentration. Perfect for keeping kids going during school and at home!
2. Omega 3 fatty acids– these are essential fatty acids which cannot be made in the body and must be obtained from the diet. EPA and DHA contained in oily fish are super brain boosting foods and can be used very easily by the body. Essential fatty acids can also be obtained from plant foods like flaxseeds, soya beans, walnuts and pumpkin seeds. If your child doesn’t like the taste of fish and doesn’t fancy any of the other plant foods listed consider an omega 3 supplement.
3.Green Veg: You’ve heard it before and I’ll say it again: EAT YOUR GREENS! Broccoli contains vitamin K which can help to aid concentration and brain function so these little green powerhouses are brilliant for your little one’s mind.
4. Blueberries – beautiful brain boosting berries! These yummy little superstars have been shown to help delay short term memory loss. Who would have thought?! Add them to cereal, yoghurt and salads or as a tasty sweet snack in lunchboxes
5. Nuts and Seeds– these contain excellent vitamins and minerals that help boost memory and thinking function. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are especially powerful as they contain the mineral zinc which has been linked to a positive brain function
6. Avoid foods high in sugar and fat -or those which are highly processed as these will cause a sharp rise in energy levels followed by a slump. Swap the biscuits, chocolate bars and jellies for unsalted nuts and seeds, fresh and dried fruit and vegetable sticks. Of course we can all have a treat now and again, we are human after all!!
Check out our fabulous recipes page for some inspiration when planning meals for all of the family plus some quick, simple and HEALTHY lunches for back to school and work!
Emma Brennan is a qualified Nutritionist and is a registered member of the Association for Nutrition (AFN). Emma attained her qualification in Human Nutrition from Ulster University, Coleraine. Emma has a passion for all things nutrition and health related and her mission is to educate the public about their health and wellbeing through her blogs, videos and nutrition tips online and through the Good4U Nutrition Service provided to schools, sports clubs and businesses.