Foods to help your child focus

Want to help your child be more alert and focused, both at school and at home? Start by taking a good look at the food they’re eating.

While many individual foods (often called ‘brain foods’) may help increase your child’s brain function and ability to focus, it’s best to look at their whole diet to ensure they’re getting what their developing brains and bodies need.

To get you started, here are some simple tips from Connect Health and Community’s in-house kids’ nutrition expert, Paediatric Dietitian, Viv Sullivan:

  1. Make sure your child eats regular meals and snacks, especially breakfast. This provides a great energy boost to start the day.
  2. Include omega 3s and healthy fats, which are essential for brain growth and function. Fatty fish, nuts and seeds are great (just be mindful of others who may have nut allergies).
  3. Wholegrain cereals, lentils and legumes (such as beans) provide a constant supply of glucose (the brain’s preferred fuel), B vitamins (to help use that energy) and fibre (for digestive health), and keep them full between meals.
  4. Encourage them to eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables, which are full of vitamins and antioxidants to keep their growing cells healthy.
  5. Dairy foods, such as milk, yogurt and cheese are great sources of calcium, protein and vitamin D – all important for healthy bones and teeth, as well as brain growth. Dairy alternatives such as calcium-fortified soy, rice or almond milks can be suitable substitutes however read the labels carefully.
  6. Eggs and lean meats provide iron to help focus and maintain energy, and zinc to aid memory. If your child is vegetarian, serve extra iron-rich foods such as legumes and lentils, eaten with some fruit and vegetables for vitamin C to aid iron absorption.
  7. Drink water for hydration and to keep your child alert, awake and focused. It also helps keep their tummies satisfied.
  8. A daily treat is OK, however try not to let it replace the foods above. And remember, one small treat a day is enough.

If you’re still unsure about what your child should be eating, it’s best to talk to a qualified paediatric dietitian, who can help you address any concerns and give you a plan that’s tailored to your child’s needs. Call Connect Health & Community on 03 9575 5333 to find out more about our diet and nutrition services.

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