Orla Brady, Community Dietitian HSE Dublin Mid-Leinster
At last all of the kids and young people have returned to school.
The best start to every school day is to have a healthy breakfast. Research has shown that children who eat a healthy breakfast have better concentration levels, do better in tests, have better behaviour and are less hyperactive than children who skip breakfast.
A healthy breakfast releases energy slowly to keep children going until lunch and children who eat a healthy breakfast are less likely to snack on sugary snacks at break-time.
The brain is one of the smallest organs in the body. However, it uses up to 20% of the energy we need every day. Eating a breakfast which is high in fibre gives your body a slow release of glucose, keeping a steady supply of energy to the brain, which helps to maintain concentration.
Try some of the following breakfast ideas;
Wholegrain cereals; three dessertspoons of Porridge, one-two cereal biscuits e.g. weetabix or oatibix, 4 dessertspoons of Ready Brek, four dessertspoons of flake type cereal with fortified milk. Add some fruit to cereals e.g. strawberries, raspberries, grapes, banana. Try to avoid giving your child sugary breakfast cereals as these will leave your child hungry and tired half way through the morning.
Wholemeal/wholegrain/granary breads or mini bagels: one slice of wholemeal bread or one mini bagel toasted with chopped bananas/peanut butter/baked beans or 1 scrambelled/boiled or poached egg. Avoid chocolate spreads. Offer a piece of fruit e.g. handful of grapes/strawberries, small orange or fun-size banana.
Smoothie: one banana and one handful of mixed berries and a small pot of yoghurt.
It is important that children take enough fluids during the day to avoid dehydration which could cause them to become tired and lead to poor concentration. Water and milk are the best choices as they are tooth friendly. Milk provides valuable calcium which is essential for growing bones and teeth. Try fortified milks as these contain Vitamin D which is essential for calcium absorption.
Remember to set a good example for your children. The easiest way to help them eat well is to do the same yourself. Make healthy eating a way of life for the whole family.
For more information or for more information on diet and nutrition, please contact:
The Community Nutrition and Dietetic Service, HSE HSE Midlands, Louth, Meath Tel: (044 ) 93 95518 or email [email protected].