It is important to realise that food is about so much more than just filling tummies. By feeding your child nutritionally rich and balanced food you can actually help them to concentrate better in class and have better brain function and sustainable energy.
Start the day the protein-rich way
Kids need protein to grow and to concentrate in class. Protein’s energy is released slowly, which means that it does not cause spikes in a child’s blood sugar. These spikes are often caused by sugary cereals and processed high-carbohydrate foods. A spike or rise in blood sugar are always followed by a low or dip, which leaves children feeling lethargic and with reduced concentration. Avoid sugary, processed foods at all costs when planning breakfasts and lunchboxes.
Eggs are a great protein-rich breakfast and lunchbox option and are among the most nutritious brain foods on earth. Eggs contain important B vitamins and folic acids that are important for brain function. Serve scrambled eggs or omelettes for breakfast or make our delicious super green ham and egg cups.
Get the good fats
Did you know that about 60% of your brain is made of fat? Fat is very important for brain function but it is important to consume the correct fats. These fats are called long-, medium- and short-chain fatty acids. The best source of these essential fats are oily fish. Oily fish contain omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamin D, which not only helps with better brain function but also helps with anxiety and depression. Salmon, mackerel and sardines are great sources. Use tinned or fresh in fishcakes for breakfasts or lunchboxes.
Eat your greens
Green, fibrous vegetables are excellent brain food. Vegetables such as broccoli and spinach contain antioxidants, vitamin C, fibre and flavonoids that not only boost brain health but also reduces oxidative stress and inflammation on cells. To make life easier, keep some McCain’s frozen green vegetables in the freezer for speedy lunchbox options. When cooking with McCain’s frozen vegetables, you can rest assured that all their produce is harvested at its peak, blanched and snap-frozen within hours to maintain freshness and lock in nutrients. Place a few McCain Broccoli Florets or McCain Garden Peas in the microwave for 1 minute to serve in egg cups or lunchboxes or keep them frozen and use them in nutritious green smoothies.
Berries are one of the healthiest choices when it comes to breakfast food and lunchbox snacks. They contain antioxidants that reduce inflammation and improve communication between brain cells. Combine it with full-fat, unflavoured yoghurt. Full-fat yoghurt is a good source of protein, B vitamins and antioxidants to boost brain health.
Healthy kids, healthy brains
Brain health is not only about nutrition. A healthy, active lifestyle is also important for brain health. Exercise supports blood flow and oxygen to the brain and actually creates new brain cells. Exercise also assists with sleeping. Kids between seven and 12 years old should have a set bedtime and get 9–10 hours of sleep at night to have optimal brain function the next day. That also means that screen time should be limited, especially an hour before bedtime.