Plenty of research suggests that healthy eating improves concentration and helps children do better in school. Getting the proper nutrients is very important for young brains that are still developing.
Healthy eating makes us feel better and happier. Research suggests that a lack of iron in the diet leads to tiredness and lack of concentration. Children that miss out on their necessary intake of nutrients, such as vitamin B and magnesium, can also become irritable, uninterested and lethargic.
Foods with high levels of fat and sugar like sweets and processed cakes can cause energy dips. When children eat food with a high fat content the energy dip is caused by the body sending extra blood from the brain to the tummy to help digest the food. Very sugary food will cause an energy dip as it causes your blood sugar to spike and then plunge, causing increased tiredness. Too much sugar and fat can also lead to weight issues in later life, including obesity.
There are foods known as ‘brain foods’ that can help to boost brain function. Some examples of these are:
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day as it fuels your child's brain and body and gets him or her ready for the day. Studies have found that eating breakfast may improve short-term memory and attention. Hence School Teachers encourage parents to provide a good, healthy breakfast before School.
When planning a healthy diet for your kids, base the amount of food you serve each child on gender and age. Boys aged 4 to 13 need between 1200 and 2600 calories, while girls need between 1200 and 2200. Teenage boys and girls need up to 3200 and 2400 calories, respectively. A healthy diet for children includes grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy and meats and limited amounts of fats and sugars.
Note: Fruit juice and cordial will often contain a lot of sugar. Check on the bottle how much sugar there is in the drink before you buy it. This may sometimes surprise you!
The BBC website is really useful as it breaks down all the food groups and tells you how much of each food group you should be giving your child and gives you advice on how to provide a healthy balance of foods.
Article on healthy eating for children and links to additional information.