Numerous studies have shown that there is a positive connection between a well-fed child and their ability to focus and be successful in school. The impact of nutrition on a child and their education goes beyond performances in school. Good nutrition also improves class attendances and increases the chances of a child enrolling for school at a younger age.
While there is no doubt that nutrition plays a tremendous role in improving a child’s performances in school, it is amazing that children are still given foods that are likely to hinder their abilities to learn. Foods loaded with caffeine, sugar, sodium, and chemicals almost always leave school-going kids tired, jittery, unfocused and, sometimes sick.
A healthy meal or snack for a school-going child should consist of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and protein. There are also certain vitamins that target definite functions that should be included. For example, food that is rich in lecithin improves memory while potassium boosts energy and improves brain function.
Here are some of the ways nutrition can influence a child’s learning potential:
1. Enhances brain function.
For school-aged children, nutrition has a huge bearing on overall mental capacity. For instance, lack of iron can cause a decrease in dopamine transmission, thus adversely impacting cognition. Lack of various other minerals and vitamins such as zinc, iodine vitamin B and vitamin E can also limit mental concentration and inhibit cognitive abilities.
2. Improves the behavior of children.
Children who are well-fed have no problem pushing themselves to learn. At the same time, they are likely to attend classes more frequently. Malnutrition, on the other hand, has been shown to cause behavior problems in school-going children. Sugar is known to impact child behavior negatively. A balanced diet can reduce interruptions and improve a child’s attentiveness in class.
3. Improves school outcomes.
Higher quality diets are associated with better exam performances. Students on good diets can focus more on their tasks and attend classes without any problems. At the end of the day, all these benefits lead to improved performances in exams and other areas.
How can schools and parents encourage children to eat healthy foods?
School age is an ideal time to teach children about the benefits of healthy foods. It is the first time they are starting to be on their own and have some pocket money which gives them a bit of a say in their food choices. At this age, children learn quickly. They are also influenced by popular trends and their friends.
In order to ensure that they eat a balanced diet, children should be provided with a wide array of foods to choose from. How much they can eat will depend on how physically active they are in a day. When they are very active, snacking can help maintain their energy levels.
The foods to limit should be high sugar, fatty, and processed foods. These foods include processed meats, candy bars, sugar cereal, chips, soft drinks, and juices.
Keeping your active children fed throughout the day with healthy snacks will also contribute to their mood and ability to concentrate.
Every school-going child has the potential and capability to perform well in school. One thing that can limit their chances of reaching that potential is poor nutrition. The sooner parents and teachers take the necessary measures to improve nutrition, the better it will be for their children in all aspects of their schooling.