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A young girl in school uniform looking at a work book in a class room

How to keep kids healthy at school

You’re not there at lunchtime to check they’re getting their veggies – and when they get home they just want to slump in front of the TV. So how can you help your child avoid health hazards?

Raise your breakfast game

Yes, sugary cereals with cartoon characters are tough to beat, but you can make healthy breakfasts deliciously tempting. Maximise brain power with a smart approach to nutrition. Eggs, contain choline which is important for memory development, so serve up a delicious omelette.  Peanut butter contains vitamin E and thiamin, both thought to help mental function – spread across wholegrain toast.  Oats, berries, dairy and nut milks are also fantastic brain foods so win brownie points with a breakfast smoothie.

Ease asthma

Childhood asthma is on the rise, and is one of the top reasons children miss school. Asthma also interferes with sleep, which then affects concentration levels. A few tweaks to the diet could make all the difference.

Omega-3 is thought to contain anti-inflammatory properties that can help with symptoms; try adding linseeds, flaxseed, soybeans and walnuts to meals.

Also use berries and leafy greens – packed with vitamin C – which may strengthen the immune system; purée kale or spinach with naturally sweet raspberries and blueberries, then add water and freeze in lollipop moulds.

If you’re still having difficulty getting your kids to eat enough of these foods, vitamin supplements could be the answer.

Overcome exam stress

A recent survey of school leaders found primary children sitting SATs were showing greater signs of stress at exam time and rising anxiety among pupils in general.

Help tackle this with meditation, yoga and a healthy diet. Japanese Buddhist monks were able to meditate for hours, it’s thought, in part, because of an amino acid in the green tea they drank, called L-theanine. Some studies have found that it reduces anxiety, helps focus during exams.

Reset their sleep

Being outdoors in the sunshine helps regulate children’s sleep cycles by boosting melatonin, but unfortunately their infinite replaying of Trollhunters and addiction to Candy Crush has reduced the amount of time they go outside and play. Add to this the melatonin-supressing effects of blue light given off from screens, and you have a recipe for sleep-debt – not good news as your kids need at least nine to 10 hours a night.

Sleep deprivation leads to poor concentration and difficulty learning – a problem when they’re trying to ace SATs. You can help battle the effects of a lack of sleep by creating “no technology zones” two to three hours before bedtime, and consider a natural sleep aid such as kid-friendly Rescue Remedy Night Spray or a lavender pillow spritz.

Battle obesity

With more than one in five children starting primary school in England, Wales and Scotland overweight, childhood obesity is one of the most pressing health concerns today. Many playground games like Tag and British Bulldog, which used to get them moving at lunchtime, have been banned by schools.

You can help encourage healthy choices by making sure you sit down to family meals, which have been linked to children eating larger amounts of fruit, veg, fibre, calcium-rich foods and vitamins than kids who ate separately. Plus, it’s been shown the more a family eat together, the more likely children will be to make healthy eating choices generally.

Handpicked content: Fitness your kids will actually do with you

Sources

www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-38743765
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16531187
www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1323893014000100
www.theguardian.com/education/2017/may/01/sats-primary-school-children-suffering-stress-exam-time
www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/uk-school-increase-class-sizes-due-to-underfunding-a7658941.html
www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-power-prime/201212/how-technology-is-changing-the-way-children-think-and-focus
www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/uk-schools-mental-health-surge-support-issues-children-pupils-nasuwt-barnardos-a7682751.html
https://opto.ca/health-library/blue-light-is-there-risk-of-harm
www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464611000351
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/
www.express.co.uk/news/uk/666701/British-bulldog-banned-UK-school-concerns
www.theguardian.com/education/2017/aug/25/school-nurse-shortage-putting-childrens-lives-at-risk
www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2017/01/27/every-school-uk-needs-nurse-establish-protect-mental-well-being/
The Effects of L-theanine (Suntheanine®) on Objective Sleep Quality in Boys with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial, Lyon MR, Kapoor MP, Juneja LR

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