Eating healthy food is very important for children. They need the energy to concentrate throughout the day not only for the classes but also for the extracurricular activities taking place. Mostly children are given heavy, hard to digest food and when they go and sit in the class or sit for self study sessions their attention and retention capacity goes very low. Food given to children should be such that the children do not feel sleepy after having it. Before important activities that require a lot of concentration and energy such as examinations, sports tournaments etc or during the self study periods the following categories of foods should be given to the children.
1. WHOLE GRAIN FOODS
Why whole grains are important?
Whole grains are rich in fibre and vitamins. They release the energy very slowly and the child feels full for longer. The child does not feel sleepy immediately after eating them as these foods release energy very slowly.
In this category choices can be whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, broken wheat, oats, bran cereals.
2. Fruits and Vegetables
WHY fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. They help the child to grow and develop and increase his vitality.
Fresh fruits and vegetables can easily be included for snacks and meals
Use as many different coloured fruits and vegetables as possible. Fruits and vegetables can be had as salads, whole fruit / vegetables, juices (fruits/vegetables juices –vegetable juices are always a better option as they contain less of sugars). It is always better to have whole fruits than juices as fruits have natural sugars and are more filling.
3. Proteins rich foods :
Why proteins are important?
Proteins help to build, maintain and replace the tissues of the body .Muscles, organs and immune system are mostly made up of proteins. Proteins are useful especially if there are increased energy requirements.
Sources of proteins
Eggs , nuts, beans , sprouted lentils or pulses such as peas, chickpeas ,chicken etc.
4. Low Fat dairy foods:
Why low fat dairy foods are important?
Low fat dairy foods provide the child with calcium and Vitamin D .
Sources for low fat dairy
Low fat cheese , Low fat yoghurt, skimmed milk, cow’s milk will also work
Water is the best beverage for children to drink. Children should be encouraged to drink lots of water. They should cut down on soft drinks, caffeine products such as tea and coffee .They can take fruit/vegetable juices one or two servings per day. Prefer freshly prepared juices as packaged juices contain more of additives and sugars. Vegetable juices are always preferable over fruit juices due to low sugar content.
FOODS STUDENTS NEED TO BE CAREFUL WITH:
Ice-cream, Cakes , chocolates, biscuits, cream, sugary drinks(including packaged juices) as all these foods are loaded with calories, fats and sugar.
PERFECT CHOICES FOR SCHOOL MEALS:
1. Always choose foods that are rich in proteins –cheese, beans, sprouted lentils, pulses , poultry, fish.
2. Don’t give -burgers, cakes , pastries, burgers everyday .
3. Choose at least one starchy food-potato, bread, rice, banana
4. Eat a piece of fruit.
5. Eat at least one portion of raw vegetables- as a part of salad.