Everyone wants their children to perform well at the school, good at their extracurricular activities like music or dance or painting etc. Apart from all these new age moms prefer a calm and less hyperactive child and a child with fewer tantrums. A child who is fed with a well balanced diet and with adequate physical activity will improve these qualities in children.
For a healthy brain the child should Eat Well, Play Well, Drink Well and Sleep Well.
Coming to the food part there are some Super Brain Foods which can sharpen your little tot’s brain, improve their alertness and also can help your child to be less hyperactive.
The Super Brain Foods are listed below which are helpful in boosting the brain health of your children.
1. Foods which contain Omega 3 fatty acids are oily fishes like sardine, tuna and salmon. Vegetarian sources of Omega 3 fatty acids are flax seeds, walnuts etc. As these foods are different in taste children may not like so the flaxseeds can be powdered and mixed with the wheat flour to make rotis or other sabjis or can be mixed with the curds. Walnuts can be crushed and put with the breakfast cereals or mixed with the milkshakes.
2. Foods with Antioxidants are also brain boosters. Bright colored vegetables and fruits are high in antioxidants. Good sources are Green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, oranges, strawberries etc. Nuts like Groundnut, Almonds, Walnuts and wheat germ which is available in grocery stores are good sources of antioxidant Vit.E. Peanut butter is also a very good source of antioxidants, which is a better alternative to the regular butter.
3. Foods high in Choline (Choline is a B vitamin) are Eggs especially the yolk, cauliflower, yogurt, tofu etc help to do wonders in your child’s brain growth.
4. Complex Carbohydrates which is present in Whole grains like Whole wheat atta, Whole wheat bread, Ragi, Oats etc provides your Childs body with slow and steady supply of fuel especially the brain. Oats is called as the “Grain for the Brain” by the nutritionists.
5. Iron containing foods such as dried fruits and leafy vegetables are not only important for your child’s growth but also to improve their concentration at schools.
6. Water is also an essential nutrient to hydrate your child’s brain and increase their mental sharpness. Brain contains 80% water, and it shrinks when the child’s body is dehydrated. And thus reduces their brain power. So they should drink enough water to prevent dehydration.
THERE IS ONE MORE REASON TO SAY NO TO JUNK FOODS
Yes, the junk foods not only make your child a couch potato but also they are brain drainers. Fried foods, processed foods, sugary cereal and other foods containing more sugar are equally bad for their brain growth and development. Foods containing too much sugar will cause a spike in the blood sugar levels of your child and make them hyperactive and distracted from doing their activities.
LET YOUR CHILD GET ADEQUATE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND SLEEP
Because of the Apartment housing systems and nuclear families our children do not play much outdoor games instead they watch TV and play computer games. This lack of physical activity also deprives their brain growth. Apart from giving a healthy diet, let your child play well also which helps them in their overall sharpening of their brains. Let them play outdoors games like cycling, playing cricket for at least 1-2hours/day. Playing board games, solving puzzles are also equally good to improve their brain power. Last but not least sleeping well for around 7-8 hours/day for the children above 5 years of age and 10-12 hours for children 0-5 years age is important for their brain growth and development.
BRAIN BOOSTING FOOD CHOICES FOR YOUR CHILDREN
Brain healthy Breakfast choices
Breakfast is the Brain Food so please doesn’t allow your children to skip it.
Whole-wheat bread Toast with Peanut butter
Oats porridge with crushed walnuts, almonds and raisins
Rotis made from whole wheat flour (wheat flour can be made rich with flax seed powder or wheat germ)
Muesli with strawberries and scrambled eggs
Pasta with carrots and peas and orange juice
Ragi dosa made with pureed spinach leaves and sambar
Cereals with mixed nuts and dry fruits and scrambled eggs
Brain healthy Lunch choices
Curd Rice with beans fry
Palak paratha with tofu fry, sliced tomato &carrot fingers in yogurt dip
Dal rice with cauliflower carrot fry and tomato slices
Rasam rice and omelet with chopped tomatoes and carrot finger salad
Brain healthy Snack choices
Strawberry milkshake (flax seed powder can be added to it to make it more healthy)
Yogurt smoothies with fresh strawberries
K.Uma, M.Sc., R.D.
Registered Nutrition Consultant