As adults we know that sitting at a desk all day can be exhausting, which is why we painstakingly plan our meals so that we feel pleasantly full and can focus on the tasks at hand. Our children, however, don’t yet understand the importance of eating for performance and will only eat the food they like, regardless of the hours you’ve spent planning their lunchboxes. This can lead them to feeling drowsy in the afternoon.
As parents, we can control their breakfast and their dinners, but the morning tea, afternoon tea and lunch breaks are, in part, up to them as children select the best from their lunchboxes.
Morning tea is a good time for fruit and vegetables to increase the extra serving for the day, while the afternoons are good for adding protein to get children through the afternoon, with a full stomach, and ready for complicated lessons.
There are many benefits of including protein more frequently into the diet, here are three of the key reasons:
- The brain’s neurons communicate to each other via the protein we eat. Fats such as fish oil help, but the protein is what keeps neurons firing 1.
- Protein can increase the dopamine levels in the brain – which in turn can increase alertness1.
- Protein repairs the body after a long day of continuous operation – all body tissues undergo wear and tear throughout the day. Protein rebuilds the body2.
For optimum benefits, protein should be included in every lunchbox and plate. Protein can be sourced from foods such as seeds, peas, beans and legumes are high in protein, contain low GI carbohydrates and good fats, meaning that adding these to your child’s lunchbox will keep them not only fuller for longer but their sponge-like brains soaking up all the knowledge!