We are delighted and honoured to be working with the wonderful Libby from The Munch Hub. Libby has put together a fantastic back-to-school series. Not only jam packed with lunchbox ideas but sound nutritional advice too.
The Munch Hub believes in the power of 'real' food to nourish our bodies and minds, keeping us healthy and enabling all to meet our full potential.
I'd like to say a special thank you to Libby for all her hard work and passion for real food filling our bellies and keeping us and our kiddos nourished through the day. Over to Libby.....
Welcome to this four-part series in collaboration with Munch where we’ll bring you lunchbox ideas and time-saving tips and tricks to make the back to school period run a little more smoothly for you. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll break down some practical nutrition info alongside simple recipes and tips to ease any stresses and turn lunchboxes into a pleasurable experience both for those packing and eating them.
One of the most important things we can do for our children to help them get the best out of their bodies and brains is to give them good food. So let’s start by looking at what our children actually need to get them through the school day feeling full of energy, motivated and ready to concentrate.
1. Balance Blood Sugar Levels
Keeping our kids sugar levels balanced throughout the day will help to keep their mood and attention levels balanced too. Children’s brains are particularly sensitive to changes in their blood sugar levels - this is because the brain uses around 25% of the body’s glucose supply (our main source of fuel that comes from our food).
We want to help ensure even and sustainable levels of energy for our children, so it’s important we give them slow-releasing forms of complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, sweet potatoes, oats, brown rice, nuts, seeds and whole grain pasta and bread.
Some foods, like those with refined sugars (found in fizzy drinks, sweets and biscuits), and fast-release carbohydrates (white bread and pasta) cause a big spike in sugar levels, which can make children hyper and distracted, leading to poor concentration.
Packing a lunchbox that will keep your child’s blood sugar levels balanced gives them the best possible chance to keep focussed, calm and motivated in the afternoon without dips in energy or mood.
2. Fuel the brain
Approximately 60% of the human brain consists of fats - so it’s no surprise that our brains need fat to work at their best. The more healthy fats our children eat (like those found in oily fish, avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds) the better the cells in their brains will function.
On the other hand, trans fats, which are commonly found in processed and fried foods, pastry, sausage rolls and baked goods like cakes, muffins and biscuits, can cause more harm than good. They can make kids feel sluggish, adversely affect memory and lower mood.
3. Provide Variety
Vitamins and minerals play lots of important roles in our body such as in energy production, growth, brain development, building strong bones, for vision and ensuring optimal health.
Our bodies can’t produce all of the vitamins and minerals we need so it’s important to make sure our kids are getting them in their diet by eating a wide variety of foods. One way to do this is by changing up what we put in their lunchboxes, and try to avoid sticking to the same items every day - that way they get a wide range of vitamins and minerals, providing them with all the nutrients they need to learn, grow and stay healthy.
4. Build up the immune system
Vitamins are also a vital part of a strong immune system, helping children to resist infection and to speed up healing. Although we can’t always avoid our children getting sick, a nourishing diet that’s rich in vitamins will make it harder for children’s bodies to pick up illnesses - super important for minimising back to school bugs. A healthy diet is the best ammunition we can give our children to fight off the bugs and germs that surround them at school.
5. Provide Energy
Children have relatively high energy needs for their size. They need energy to maintain bodily functions and to be active, just as we do as adults. But they also need energy for all of the physical growth and learning that they do each day. The best way to meet our children’s energy needs is to give them real food and regular meals that are nutritious. Getting a good balance of protein, fats and carbohydrates will drive energy production, allowing children to be active and providing them with the massive amounts of energy that they need to grow.
When it comes to concentration, being properly hydrated is key. The body is 60% water, and brain tissue contains a lot of water. Our brain depends on getting enough water to function properly - it isn’t able to store water and so we need to replace however much gets used up during the day, or else cognitive function is impeded.
Some drinks can be a sure-fire way for children to quickly ingest unwanted sugars, artificial sweeteners and chemicals that are detrimental to their mood and memory. Fizzy drinks, squashes and even fruit juices are highly processed and low in nutrients and can immediately affect children’s ability to think clearly and negatively impact their mood.
Look out for Part 2 where we share a super speedy but nutritional snack to get ahead.