With the examination season coming up, the tension & pressure slowly creeps into our child's mind which can affect their eating patterns and food choices. Skipping meals, binge eating, including sugary foods, excessive snacking etc. may affect their overall performance. Its important that we understand and explain to them how nutrition plays a much more crucial role, specifically during the exam season. Here are a few facts and strategies that can be followed without much effort but is extremely important.
1. Replace Junk foods with Healthy snacks:
It's true that high sugar, deep-fried, salty or preservative rich foods can dull the brain performance. Its extremely tempting to keep such foods stored in our shelves for our children to pick when hungry. However, these kinds of food can only worsen their performance. Keep healthy snacks such as fruits, nut and nut spreads, cheese cubes, fresh fruit juices, salads, dry fruits, nuts & nut bars, nut and ghee based sweets, vegetable dips, lassi etc. Some options could be apple with honey dip, walnuts dipped in peanut butter, carrot sticks with hummus, steamed groundnuts and jaggery etc. These will nourish and will help the child feel healthy rather than feeling sluggish.
2. State the important of not missing any meals:
Help your child to understand the importance of all meals and how food plays a huge role in their performance. Most children skip meals or eat unhealthy non nutritious options such as biscuits and breads. Make mealtime peaceful and accompany them with their meals. Make sure that there is enough time to eat even on an examination day. Inculcate this habit well in advance so that they do not prefer to skip their meals.
3. Help them to stay well hydrated:
With added pressure, sleeplessness and low activity, the body can feel extremely tired and dehydrated. Its important that the child constantly keeps drinking water to flush out accumulated toxins and to make the child feel fresh. Keep a bottle of water around them at all times and remind them frequently to include sufficient water. Additionally, fresh fruit juices or soups may also help.
4. Take care of their gut health:
Its during this season, children usually suffer from constipation, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome due to the pressure, untimely eating habits, bad foods choices, sleeplessness and more. Hence its extremely important that their stomach health is taken care of. For this purpose, give them a good amount of probiotics such as curd, fermented foods such as idlis, dosa etc. Its also important to provide a lot of fiber through fruits and vegetables. At least 2 servings of fruits per day and 3 servings of vegetables per day is recommended.
5. Give foods that can keep their brain alert:
The most important organ that needs to be taken care of during this season is the brain. Its not just about storing all information in the brain, but its also about ensuring that the brain performs to its optimum when needed. It is important to help our children have sharp memory, to grasp information well, to help make right choices and more. For this reason, we need to include a lot of brain healthy foods such as nuts like almonds, walnuts, groundnuts, pista, cashew etc and seeds such as pumpkin, watermelon or sunflower seeds, ghee, fish, olive oil etc. Incorporate nuts and seeds in their snacks or milkshakes. Do not miss including ghee everyday. Add a tsp of olive oil in their vegetable servings and fish whenever possible.
Beyond these strategies, allow them to involve in some physical activities even during exam times so their body is active and performs well. Some play time, sound sleep and relaxation can help them perform much better.
Also, while doing these for your children, do not forget to include them in your diet as well.
All the best!