With exams looming around the corner and stress levels at an all-time high, ensuring your children are eating well can do wonders to help them ace their upcoming papers. Regardless of age and educational level, preparing nutritious meals leading up to the big, stressful day can go a long way in preparing them at the examination hall.
Not sure what to make? Try these top food choices that are sure to help boost mental alertness, improve concentration and relieve anxiety in your child:
Slow-release carbohydrate foods for prolonged energy
Instead of worrying if your child is suppressing his or her hunger pangs while studying for hours, start a meal plan that includes healthy grain choices such as oat bran, whole-grain and wheat tortillas.
According to the Department of Health & Human Services in Australia, consuming foods with low glycaemic indexes (i.e. GI less than 55) allow our bodies to prolong the digestion and absorption process. This in turn results in the slow, yet steady supply of energy to our system. These advanced oats and super grains are also great as a food staple as they are jam-packed with minerals and fibre to help your child stay satiated over the course of their intensive study sessions.
Oily fish rich in Omega-3 to retain brain cells
Salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines and tuna come to mind when it comes to fish that are rich in Omega-3 – a fatty acid that can preserve brain health.
“These higher levels of fatty acids can be achieved through diet and the use of supplements, and the results suggest that the effect on brain volume is the equivalent of delaying the normal loss of brain cells that comes with aging by one to two years” – a statement made by study author James V. Pottala, PhD, of the University of South Dakota in Sioux Falls and Health Diagnostic Laboratory, Inc., in Richmond, Va.
Simply put, Omega-3 is vital for brain functions and consistent consumption of oily fish can help retain your child’s brain cells.
Fresh, green vegetables to slow memory decline
If your child is struggling with retaining new concepts and information for the impending exams, try adding more vegetables to his or her diet. Whether you are adding leafy greens such as spinach and kale, or cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, all of them are excellent in enhancing cognitive health.
Out of the 1,000 people studied by researchers at Rush University and Tufts University, those who consumed one to two daily servings of green leafy vegetables showed rates of slower cognitive decline. This should come as no surprise since such greens contain vitamin B to give your child that extra edge of alertness.
Nutritious, juicy blueberries for better concentration
Blueberries may be small, but a good mouthful after a hearty meal packs a serious punch when it comes to feeding your child’s body with antioxidants and vitamin C. Antioxidant-rich fruits such as blueberries can increase your child’s focus because of the effects of stimulating his or her flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. On the other hand, vitamin C is well known for playing an important role in supporting our immunity system. To prevent your child from falling sick due to the overwhelming pressure of the exams, do consider adding blueberries into the diet to help him or her fight the common cold.
To add that extra sweetness to the mellow-tasting fruit, try mixing some berries with a small cup of yogurt for a delightful, rewarding treat after a long day of studying! You can also serve a bowl of these treats by drizzling them with a dose of maple syrup – the perfect replacement for late-night snacks.
Crunchy nuts and seeds for that extra burst of energy
If your child displays finicky eating behavior and does not react well to drastic changes to meals, adding a handful of nuts and seeds to your cooking should do the trick. Using nuts and seeds as ingredients not only adds a crunchy texture to otherwise plain meals, they are densely packed with the goodness of zinc.
Referencing research conducted at the University of Toronto and published in the journal Neuron, zinc is vital in regulating how neurons communicate with one another. This in turn affects how we learn and form memories of the knowledge we are exposed to. Nuts and seeds high in zinc content include pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, pine nuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds and almonds.
These morsels of nutrition can also be eaten as snacks while your child is taking a much-needed break from studying. Simply spread them over a baking sheet and roast them for a nice, toasty flavour. Don’t forget to toss them occasionally too!