• Back to School

        Are you giving your school child the best possible start to the day?

        According to a Government report by Public Health England published last month, around 40% of 11-15 year olds in the UK don’t eat a daily breakfast, and as a nation our children have one of the highest incidents of sugary drink consumption in the world.

        If your child starts the morning with a nutritious breakfast, rich in fibre, whole grains and protein, and low in sugar, they will have the best possible chance of retaining their concentration throughout the day and therefore are likely to behave better and learn more effectively.

        Sugar in foods and drinks can cause rapid spikes of energy, but then these are usually followed by big dips. This is when agitation, lack of concentration and mood swings kick in (and then the cravings for sugar and sweet foods to try and replicate the ‘kick’). By eating foods which release sugar slowly, this should give enough energy to feed the brain and body without causing these peaks and troughs.

        Including the right carbohydrates in your child’s breakfast will help release sugar and energy slowly through the morning and this will set them up for the day and help them avoid the temptation to reach for sugary drinks and fatty snacks at break time. Adding protein will also slow their digestion and keep them feeling fuller for longer.


        • food labelCheck the food labels

        Some cereals, muesli and granolas are surprisingly high in sugar, so check the label where it reads Carbohydrates: of which sugars’. You should be aiming for foods with around 5-10g of sugar per 100g or lower– but not anything higher.

        • Served place setting: Hot morning porridge and eggs on white bac Porridge – for added brain power!

        Porridge oats contain slow releasing carbohydrates and are full of B vitamins and fibre, so will help keep the kids full through the morning. They are also cheap, versatile and a great warming solution on cold winter days. To add even more nutrients, add mixed seeds and milk to increase protein content, and some chopped fresh fruit for additional fibre and vitamins.

        •  Choose muesli over cereal.

        Muesli, like porridge, is a great source of fibre and slow releasing carbohydrates, and is generally much lower in sugar than many of the well know cereals. Do check the food labels though and avoid any muesli with too much added dried fruit which can significantly increase sugar content. Better to chop your own apples and pears or add berries for a lower sugar hit.

        •  Eggs – the ultimate fast food.Boiled egg brighton hove wellbeing nutrition

        If time permits, an ideal cooked breakfast would include eggs. They are the ultimate fast food – rich in essential nutrients including Vitamin D and calcium for healthy bones and teeth; choline which helps with brain development and memory; and protein for growth, repair and immunity. They are cheap and quick to cook and can be scrambled, poached or turned into an omelette; but the childhood favourite must be boiled with toast soldiers –whole grain toast being a good source of fibre slow releasing carbohydrates.

        •  In a hurry?– there’s nothing wrong with toast.Baked Beans on Toast

        Again, opt for wholegrain or brown rather than white loaves for the best supply of nutrients. If your child won’t eat wholemeal or brown, there are a number of combination brands such as Hovis Best of Both; or Warburtons Half and Half. Peanut butter is a good spread to choose and Meridien and Whole Earth do delicious low sugar version. Baked beans on toast is also a good healthy way to start the day.

        •  No time to sit down and eat? A smoothie on the run can help.

        If you really don’t have time to sit down to eat, or your child refuses to eat breakfast ( a common problem with teenagers!), try making a smoothie by blending milk; or plain or Greek yoghurt with a mix of their favourite fruits such as berries, apricots or banana. In the winter, buy packs of frozen berries more cheaply than imported fresh ones and you can drop these straight in to the blender. For additional protein and essential fats, add in mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame); blend the night before and leave to chill in the fridge overnight then they can take the smoothie with them in a sports drink bottle.

        • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Don’t forget to hydrate!

        Around 75% of the human brain is made of water, so hydration is also absolutely vital for your child’s memory, mood, concentration and learning ability. Frighteningly, according to a report this week by the Natural Hydration Council, around ¼ children surveyed did not have a drink with breakfast, and don’t drink anything until lunchtime, which means they may go for 18 hours from supper the previous night without fluids.

        Make sure your child has a drink before leaving home (juice or tea is fine, but avoid anything too sugary or carbonated), and try to send them to school with a bottle of water and encourage them to sip it through the morning when allowed.

        Think of the food your child eats at breakfast a bit like the fuel in your car. If you put poor quality fuel in, the car is more likely to splutter to a halt!