Danielle Savic is a paediatric dietician working for Paeds in a Pod who is writing a series for us full of information and advice to help you make informed decisions about your child’s nutritional health.
We know that food provides nutrients for growth, general wellbeing and even sports performance. But did you know you can improve your energy and ability to focus at school with some similar food choices? In a time when caffeinated beverages and high sugar options are common ‘pick me ups’, buck the trend and consider some of the below!
Foods containing omega 3 fatty acids are essential for optimal brain function. These healthy fats have been linked to cognitive performance and memory. They are also anti-inflammatory and can potentially help prevent conditions such as Alzheimer’s and heart disease (parents take note!).
The best sources of omega 3 fatty acids are oily fish like tuna, salmon and mackerel. 150g of these fish three times per week will provide you with the recommended amount of omega 3s. Plant sources include canola oil, linseed, flaxseed, chia seeds and soy beans. If you have a fussy eater, oily fish might be a hard one to get your little one to eat. Try putting salmon and tuna in a bake with other favourite foods such as cheese and pasta. Plant sources might be better tolerated, some flaxseed and chia seeds in their morning cereal would give some extra crunch or might even go undetected!
Once we have flooded our brains with the powerful omega 3s, we can make sure that the energy we receive from food is the long lasting kind. Carbohydrates are our brain’s preferred source of energy. High GI (glycemic index) foods such as white bread, biscuits, cakes and soft drinks are digested very quickly and give us a spike in energy (and blood sugar levels) followed by a crash. This can lead to fluctuating moods and inability to concentrate in school or at home. Low GI foods such as whole grains, fruit, legumes and yoghurt release their energy gradually and help sustain focus and concentration at school.
Some great choices for busy school days include:
-Tuna and salad sandwich
-Salmon, avocado and ricotta on ryvitas (very fancy for school!)
-3 bean salad with corn, capsicum and balsamic vinegar
-Hummus and carrots sticks and vita wheat crackers
-Greek yoghurt, berries and crushed hazelnuts
-Smoothie with banana, chia seeds, and peanut butter
-Popcorn, nuts and dried fruit snack mix
Remember, an informed decision is always a good decision.
Want to know more? Call Paeds in a Pod on 3177 2000 and book in for a consultation with me
(You can find many of the above mentioned ingredients in our Tuckshop Menu).