Getting your child ready for a competitive world is easier said than done. For school-going kids, exams are especially a harrowing time, which leaves them stressed, tired and anxious. So, as exams approach, your children need all the help they can, to stay focused for long hours. This means, apart from getting academic help and sufficient sleep, they need to eat well. In other words, you need to provide foods that can help improve memory and concentration. Home-cooked foods are ideal during this time. Junk treats that are loaded with fat, salt or sugar are best avoided. So, here’s a list of some of the best brain foods for studying:
Fish and other seafood
Omega-3 fatty acids are known to help the brain process information faster. They’re also important for memory and concentration. So, oily fishes like hilsa, ahi, rohu, and pomfret will give your child the omega-3 fatty acids he needs. Avoid providing high-mercury fishes like shark or surmai.
Nuts and seeds
If your child is a vegetarian, then he can get omega-3 fatty acids from sources like walnuts and flaxseeds. Apart from omega-3 fatty acids, nuts and seeds also have vitamin E and zinc, which can help keep your child mentally agile. Nuts and seeds like almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts are really beneficial, as are raisins and blackcurrants. Your child can snack on a mixture of nuts and seeds instead of opting for low-nutrition, high-calorie snacks.
Leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard are great brain food for kids. They provide the body with vitamins like B-6 and B-12 that help maintain the health of the nervous system, resulting in improved memory and alertness. Foods like broccoli and spinach are also a great source of folate, which your child will need in increasing quantities, as he becomes older.
Oats are a high-fibre food with a low glycaemic index. High-fibre foods release energy slowly in the body, which means, your child will be alert and attentive throughout the day. On the other hand, foods that release energy faster end up causing spikes and crashes in energy, which can affect attention and concentration. This is the reason why oats are a great breakfast food for your child.
Millets like ragi and bajra
Finger millet (ragi) and pearl millet (bajra) are other high-fibre cereals, which are a great source of complex carbs. The best part about millets is that they can be used in a number of delicious recipes. For instance, you can use ragi flour to make dosas, rotis, halwa, and even bake your own nachni (ragi) chips.
Different kinds of legumes like chickpeas (white chana), black chana, and sprouts, are good for your child. They have low glycaemic index and release energy slowly, helping your child sustain his attention for a long period of time.
It might be a good idea to avoid white rice during exams as they release energy fairly quickly, and might leave your child feeling sleepy, post a heavy meal. Wheat is a good substitute, as is brown rice. They are both complex carbs and high in fibre, thereby releasing energy slower and helping the child stay focussed and attentive. In fact, don’t wait till exam time to make the switch or your child may have a tough time adjusting to the new diet. Start including complex carbs in his diet from much before.
Citrus foods like oranges, sweet limes, and grapefruits are great brain foods. They contain abundant vitamin C and antioxidants. They’re also a great, natural way to reduce your child’s sugar cravings during exam time.
Another great brain food during exams is quinoa. It contains a nutrient called choline, which helps improve neurotransmission and mental processing. The best part about quinoa is that it can be used as a substitute for rice in many recipes.
All in all, a healthy, well-balanced diet goes a long way in improving overall concentration, memory, and focus. So, make sure you add the above brain foods to your child’s diet, not just during exams, but on an ongoing basis.