How Does Food Affect Performance in School?

Another Monday morning when the alarm has ‘mysteriously’ not worked again.  Everyone is rushing to get ready…..finish the weekend homework and remember the truck full of equipment needed to get through a day at school!  Cooking gourmet delights for breakfast is probably the last thing on any parents mind and besides cereal and toast give energy right?  However how does this affect the rest of the day in school?

How many adults can say that they work at their best when they are either on a massive caffeine or sugar high?  You may be quick, but does that equate to effective?  The majority of cereals have massive sugar content and even if they do not, what vitamins and minerals are they really giving the children.  Not to mention the fact that we burn Carbohydrates (sugars) quickly and feeling hungry shortly after eating.  Therefore, essentially that quick fix cereal just equals children starting the school day on a little bit of a sugar high and not concentrating effectively.  Although the brain does require glucose (found in carbohydrates) as fuel, it also requires fats and proteins in order to grow new connections within the brain and retain learning.  Dopamine found in red meats also increases feelings of bliss and pleasure, euphoria, appetite control, controlled motor movements, and focus.  All the things that children need to enjoy learning and achieve their goals.  However, a beautiful steak with all the trimmings is probably not realistic on a working day!  So what can we use to fuel children for success in schools?

5 Foods to help your child concentrate in school

1)     EGG – A fantastic source of protein and can be scrambled in minutes.  Team it with a piece of toast and all of a sudden there is a full meal that will not only fuel the brain but also enhance the ability to focus for longer.  If you know the morning is going to be particularly tricky it is easy to boil a couple of eggs the night before so they can be eaten quickly the following morning.

 

2)     GREEK YOGHURT – Fat is important for brain health, says Laura Lagano, RD. A full-fat Greek yogurt (which has more protein that other yoghurts) can help keep brain cells in good form for sending and receiving information.  Add in some muesli with at least 3g of fiber and a few blueberries for a dose of polyphenols.  These nutrients are thought to keep the mind sharp by hiking blood flow to the brain.

 

3)     GREENS – These are never easy to slip seamlessly into a breakfast!  However, Kale is packed with antioxidants that help new brain cells grow.  The trick is to disguise it better than just presenting it in a huge bowl of salad!  Try mixing it into a smoothie, that suddenly just becomes a fun green drink; or even adding it into an omelette – baby kale works best in omelettes.

 

4)     OATMEAL – this protein and fiber-rich food helps to keep heart and brain arteries clear.  A study has shown that children who ate sweetened oatmeal achieved higher results in memory-related school tasks than those who ate sugary cereals.  Add a little cinnamon for flavour; research has also shown that some compounds in this spice help to protect brain cells.

 

5)     NUTS AND SEEDS – these little gems are packed with protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.  They are known to boost mood and keep your nervous system in check.  There are a range of nut and seed butters available now, which are often more appealing than trying to eat handfuls of nuts or seeds!  These can simply be added to the oatmeal or popped on some toast.  If you are looking for a more interesting breakfast maybe you can try teaming the spread with a banana and wrapping it altogether in a wholemeal wrap.

 

These 5 quick and easy ideas are a great start to the day and have many nutritional benefits.  For further ideas Kids Spot http://www.kidspot.com.au/kitchen/ has a range of recipes from healthy to fun; and also easy freezable ideas for forward planning.  Setting your child up with a great nutritional start to their day can only benefit their abilities to achieve in school; team this with nutritious snacks throughout the day and they are prepared for learning.

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