As Summer comes to a close, it’s hard to avoid that classic “back to school” feeling. And, if you have children around that age, you’ll be frantically “ticking off” all the essentials - does last year’s uniform still fit, what’s the new timetable, where are all the water bottles, PE kit and bus passes! The Autumn term can be long, so amongst all this planning, take a moment to consider how you can best support your child’s nutritional needs to help support their brain power, focus and immunity.
In this ultimate guide to kickstarting the next school year, we ask our expert nutritionist and Brand Ambassador Tina Lond Caulk, AKA ‘The Nutrition Guru’ @thenutritionguru, for her advice on the essentials for a strong immunity. Follow these 3 top tips to support your child’s energy levels and keep the back-to-school blues at bay. Let's go…
- Support immunity:
An array of colourful fruits and vegetables is a must - they nourish your child with the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are so vital for enriching growing minds and bodies and boosting immunity. Ideally, three fruit and five vegetable fist-sized portions a day. A healthy gut is closely linked to a strong immune system is not to be overlooked! But how exactly to soothe your child’s gut? Remember to incorporate rich foods with live friendly bacteria like live yoghurt, sauerkraut, kefir, leeks, onions. This is easier said than done with young, fussy eaters! You could try options like kefir yoghurt drinks which can be taken en route to school or popped in a packed lunch. Protein is equally key to powering through long school days and afternoons of sport. Ensure they get enough protein from sources like lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, and lentils as protein is essential for good immunity. A daily bowl of mixed veggie soup with added beans or lentils made with homemade bone broth is a brilliant source of nutrients for even the pickiest of eaters and can be put in a thermos flask and eaten at school. For extra fibre and protein, add tinned beans or legumes, to popular dishes like chilli, bolognese, casserole and curries. Try blending veggies before adding to a sauce to disguise them from fussy eaters!
- Support brain power:
Unwinding and stepping back from the regimented daily routine during the summer break is wonderful, so going back to school can be daunting. So, it’s time to help your child to power up ready for the school year ahead. Essential nutrients for developing brains include omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish; like wild salmon, sardines, and mackerel, all of which are also high in protein. A few portions of oily fish a week are sure to support your child’s brain.
To maintain steady energy levels throughout the day, opt for unrefined wholegrains like wholemeal breads, brown rice, and oats, all rich in the necessary fibre, minerals, and antioxidants.
Despite the time crunch of school mornings, it's so crucial to fuel your child for a hectic day with a delicious, nutritious breakfast that can be grabbed on the go. Try to incorporate all food groups along with whole grains, fruit, flaxseeds, chia seeds, or walnuts to kick start their day. Ideas include a daily super nutrient smoothie made with green leaves, fruit like frozen berries and a banana, live yoghurt or kefir and nut butter topped up with water (a filling and fast alternative to an often-time-consuming sit-down breakfast). We recommend filling reusable drinks bottles and drinking them on the school run.
Alternatively, if you’re really pushed for time in the morning, make overnight oats - tasty unrefined wholegrains that provide a great source of slow-releasing energy without the sugar. Add a scoop of protein powder for an extra boost, and add a variety of fruit, nuts and seeds to make every morning a little different, and to support brain function! Studies often show how these brilliant breakfasts improve concentration and can academic performance.
- Even energy levels
To steady energy levels throughout the day, try to balance each meal with 25% protein, 25% carbohydrates and 50% a diverse rainbow of vegetables that will keep your child energised all day long. Staying hydrated is essential to maintaining energy levels, particularly during the first weeks of September when the weather can still be warm. Even mild dehydration causes fatigue which is to be avoided at all costs when trying to focus.
Encourage good habits like drinking water - at least eight glasses and swap highly processed, sugary post-school snacks for nutrient-dense pick me ups like a crudité of fresh chopped raw veggies and hummus or mackerel pate on rye crackers. These fresh and fibrous snacks will tide your child over between meals and prevent hunger dips and energy crashes. Provide your child with the perfect balance of healthy fats and protein that will boost their energy levels rather than zapping them.
If you need additional help, supplements are great for extra support. Junior Revive is a super supplement with 22 Active ingredients including 12 vitamins, 6 minerals, 4 fruit & vegetable powders, Beta Glucans, Fibre, Live Friendly Bacteria and Choline to support a child’s immunity, energy and mental performance all in one daily sachet.