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LSQ Narrative: The impact of nutrition on behaviour and performance at preschools and primary school

As a teacher and mother of a child with ADHD, I understand the importance of nutrition in impacting behaviour and academic performance. When my son was diagnosed, I was determined to explore all options before turning to medication. That's when I discovered the Glycaemic Index (GI) and how it can affect our blood glucose levels.

The GI measures how quickly carbohydrates in food are broken down and absorbed, affecting our blood glucose levels. Foods with a high GI, like sugary snacks and processed foods, cause a spike in blood glucose levels followed by a crash, leading to lethargy and difficulty focusing in school. On the other hand, foods with a low GI, like whole grains and protein, provide sustained energy and help keep blood glucose levels stable.

Unfortunately, many popular lunchbox items are high GI culprits, including 100% fruit juice (undiluted), breakfast biscuits, 2-minute noodles, croissants, white bread, and energy drinks. Even 100% fruit juice can cause a sugar rush if consumed undiluted. As a solution, I've started making iced tea with fruit juice diluted 70/30 with rooibos tea, which has become a hit with visiting teenagers.

Protein is an excellent equalizer, helping keep blood glucose levels even and keeping tummies fuller for longer. Learners who eat a high-protein breakfast perform better academically than those on sugary cereals. So, it's essential to pack protein-rich snacks like hard-boiled eggs, cheese, nuts, or peanut butter in your child's lunchbox.

As parents, it's our responsibility to ensure our children have a sound home routine, effective discipline, sufficient sleep, and proper nutrition. We may motivate our children to study hard and do their homework, but we often forget that the lunchbox we pack can make or break their academic performance.

I understand that as a busy mom, it's challenging to come up with lunchbox ideas that are both nutritious and appealing to kids. So, I've created a table below to help inspire you on those days when you need to dig deep for some lunchbox inspiration.

Preschool and primary school-aged children have specific nutritional requirements that must be met to support their growth and development. By providing them with low-GI, protein-rich meals and snacks, you can help ensure that they stay energized and focused throughout the school day.

Lunchbox inspiration:

Remember, small changes can make a big difference in your child's academic performance and behaviour. Start by swapping high GI foods for low GI options and incorporating protein-rich snacks into their lunchbox. Together, we can help our children succeed in school and beyond.

Article written by Junior Primary Head Of Department Mrs Karen Engelbrecht at Loreto School Queenswood

Edited By Thabs Nyamane

Content pictures created Thabs Nyamanewas written

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