Energy and memory for children at school
Going back to school is a big change for little ones, so it’s no wonder they feel more tired. September means early starts, heavy backpacks and many hours of class throughout the day. Energy and memory for schoolchildren.
Sometimes, even when school has finished, children go to extra-curricular classes, sports clubs, etc. That’s why a correct diet is very important in ensuring that little ones have strength and energy during the day. Children are going through a period of rapid growth and development. What’s more, they use up a huge amount of calories and nutrients in their untiring physical activity, which they need to recover through a balanced diet to keep growing and maintain their energy and memory levels.
NUTRIENTS AND CHILDREN
The human body is highly complex, with a system organised into more than 60 trillion cells, each of which has its own unique structure and specific nutrient requirements to function correctly.
Cells in the human body are limited when it comes to synthesizing nutrients. Essential amino acids, minerals, almost all vitamins, essential fatty acids and some monosaccharides need to be included in our daily diets, as our bodies don’t produce them.
The number of children with learning difficulties, attention deficit and behavioural problems is well known, and seems to affect each family with school-aged children. Several studies link these issues with chronic undernourishment and the high amounts of refined sugar in their diets.
It’s really important that parents understand that nutrition plays an important role in their children’s growth and try to educate them from an early age. Children follow their parents’ example in terms of diet (it’s common that overweight children’s parents are obese). This does not mean that your kids can never eat pizza, a hamburger, sweets or chocolates. They can eat everything in moderation and no problems will arise if they usually follow a balanced diet.
THE DAY STARTS WITH BREAKFAST
We must remember that the first meal of the day is when we break our fast, which covers our needs from throughout the night while we are resting and regaining energy.
Our children should eat breakfast every day before heading out to school, especially if they are going to be taking part in sporting events. This means they are following one of the laws of correct nutrition, which states that we should ensure that we have enough nutritional support. If they skipped breakfast and replaced it with a mid-morning snack, we’re taking their most important meal of the day away from them.
We must also remember that lunch should be varied so that children can obtain all the nutrients the human body needs.
Children should eat fruit and vegetables as a daily source of vitamins, minerals and fibre as part of a healthy diet.
Some parents believe that these recommendations are over the top, but they must not forget that we are talking about children who are in the process of growing, who have many needs, not only nutritional but emotional too.
This means that we should not only make sure that they are eating healthily but that we also support them at their events.
When we talk about sources of energy, we must not forget carbohydrates or cereals, which are abundant in our diets, and which are consumed frequently during the day by sportspeople and before matches. Examples are: bread, rice, noodles, etc.
WHAT TO EAT
Children are recommended to eat foods from each food group, control fat intake caused by eating excessive amounts of cakes, which increases cholesterol in schoolchildren.
Remember that it is at this time of life that eating habits are formed and if children start having a balanced diet from early on, it’s easier for them to follow healthy eating patterns later in life. We are currently seeing a shift in schoolchildren’s diets in developed countries. This change consists of an increased amount of fats and fewer carbohydrates and fibre, because they eat fewer cereals, vegetables and fruit.
Children use up a lot of energy when they are growing and undergoing intellectual and physical development, which is why they have greater nutritional needs than adults, especially with regards to high biological value proteins, prebiotic fibre and certain vitamins and minerals related to growth and the nervous system: calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamins C, D, B1 and B6, which should be included in their diet in the correct proportions.
- Most food items on a children’s menu should come from the grains group (rice, bread, cereals) and fruit and vegetable group.
- Their daily menu should include moderate portions from the dairy group, including milk, cheese, and yoghurt, and from the meat group.
- They should only be given small portions of foods that are high in saturated fats (those found in foods such as butter, lard, cheese and ice cream) and added sugars.