In this time of processed snack packs, lunchables and cheesestrings it comes as no surprise that 26% of Canadian schoolchildren are either overweight or clinically obese. Because of the way that we as a society are eating, more and more children are facing heart disease, diabetes and particularly cognitive and mental health issues such as ADHD decreased learning ability and poor concentration. For years there has been a close link between what we put into our bodies and our ability to learn, so with this in mind, here are some pointers on making your food intake work for you.
The brain/food connection
The brain although incredibly complex in its entirety also operates on a fairly simple principal, and that is that in order to function to its full capacity it requires nutrients. These nutrients come in the form of vitamins and minerals which we get from our food. It has been proven that even the smallest nutritional deficiency can have a massive impact on the way that we learn. Our ability to problem solve decreases and we become inattentive. When we skip a meal entirely or replace dietary requirements with saturated sugars and fats, then it has exactly the same effect.
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day
I’m sure that we’ve all heard this before, but this does not mean that we can give sugary cereals such as ‘froot loops’ the same kudos as a more healthy option of rolled oats. If you are going to give your child sugary foods, be aware that it will have the same impact on the brain as missing breakfast altogether. Instead try wholemeal or oat based bread and spread on some peanut butter for that protein intake and some sustainable energy. Also wholegrain cereals with added nuts and fruit works just as well.
This is one of the best sources of brain food a child could want and is naturally found in fish. Why not try making your own fish sticks out of salmon, and bind them with wholegrain breadcrumbs, or even roll them in oats. If your child doesn’t like fish, then why not substitute cows milk for hemp seed milk (hemp seed is also a great source of omega 3). Walnuts are another fantastic source of Omega 3.
Don’t be afraid of greens
Vegetables such as dark leafy greens, sprouts and algaes are bursting with essential vitamins and minerals that our brains need. If you cannot get your child to eat their greens, then why not try a smoothie. Blend leafy greens and bean sprouts with ripe fruit such as mango and bananas and you’ll be surprised at how good it really tastes. Another great suggestion is to use Romaine lettuce as a taco shell to hold healthy fillings. Failing this, pack up raw vegetable dips for your child to munch on.
By making small changes you and your child will be heading in the right direction, which will in turn promote health, success and happiness.