Lunch box basics: Prepare your children for success

A factor that can affect our children's success in school is the consumption of nutritious foods.

What should school children of different ages be eating? Which foods allow students to pay attention in lessons? What are the foods that enable students to grow physically and mentally? What is the most important meal of the day for a student? What is the role and importance of iron in school life? These are the questions that parents often think about. Below you can find out more about the type of foods that can boost success in school.

It is back to school time in September, and families have already been focused on lesson materials and school uniforms. After schools open, they will focus on success in lessons. Dietitian Emre Uzun said that one factor that can affect success in school is the consumption of nutritious and beneficial food, warning parents to pay attention to what students eat and drink. "Correct and regular nutrition for children starts in the family environment. This is a habit and the child gains nutritional habits from his or her family," Uzun explained, indicating that children are now predominantly fed carbohydrates and think that they are nourished when they eat their fill. "An adequate and balanced diet increases mental activity. This is the only way for children to focus and concentrate on lessons. Adequate nutrition means that proteins, vitamins and minerals are taken regularly. Children who eat like this grow and develop not only physically, but also mentally."

Breakfast is a must

Uzun describes how school children should eat, saying, "The most important meal for students is undoubtedly breakfast! The student who has breakfast means that he or she has a head start on the day. They have consumed the necessary energy and their mind has started working. Research shows that students who have breakfast are 50 percent more successful at school. Breakfast increases concentration skills and energy of children. They become tired later and adapt to problems more easily. If a student is not able to have breakfast, it is advisable to prepare something to eat on the road or at school before the first lesson. Bagels, pastries and savory buns bought from the school canteen are only carbohydrates, that is, empty calories! What is eaten at breakfast should be important. Eggs, whole grain wheat bread, milk, butter, cheese and olives will offer a balanced diet in terms of protein, fat and carbohydrate."

Students should avoid tea

Uzun warned against drinking tea at breakfast, stating, "Tea blocks the iron taken, leading to anemia. Anemia also reduces oxygen to the brain and the brain cannot get enough nutrition, retarding mental skills. Communication between brain cells slows down. This is the reason for failure at school. It is therefore necessary for students to have an iron-rich diet. Eggs, red meat, dark green leafy vegetables and cereals are very rich in iron. One spoonful of grape pekmez, a kind of molasses, is also very useful. Meanwhile, iodine is an effective element on intelligence and mental functions. Iodine deficiency might affect the brain negatively. The remedy is to consume iodine rich foods such as fish, spinach, spinach beet, dried beans and garlic and keep on consuming yogurt, milk and eggs."

Other student-friendly foods

Uzun listed other food items that are considered to be student-friendly: "Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt, protein sources such as meat, poultry and fish... Especially fatty fish has innumerable positive effects on brain health and function. Again, protein-rich dry legumes, all citrus fruits and apples among winter fruits are good."

"For students who cannot help but snack: They should have dried fruits at hand. Walnuts are very important in the development of the nervous system, they should eat walnuts likewise, nuts, almonds. If they need to snack on something, they can eat sunflower seeds and a handful of pumpkin seeds. These are also rich in folic acid and play an important role in the healthy functioning of the brain."

King of drinks: Water

Uzun also touched on drinks, stating, "Do not even let in soft drinks, carbonated beverages etc. There are a few useful things a student can drink: Herbal teas which increase their body resistance in the winter months, as well as milk, ayran and of course water! Primary school students need five glasses of water per day, middle school students eight to nine, and high school students 12 to 15. Water does a lot of work from balancing the body temperature to carrying the nutrients that cells need. It protects the brain, cerebellum and spinal cord from external factors. It balances blood circulation and removes harmful waste from the body such as sweat and urine. No matter how balanced a diet a student keeps, if he does not drink water, that nutrition will not help much.

An ideal lunch box

Uzun listed what should be in an ideal lunch box:

Day 1: Chicken sandwich, one glass of ayran, one green apple

Day 2: Toast with cheese and green vegetables, handful of hazelnuts or almonds, milky home-made dessert

Day 3: Sandwich with meatballs and plenty of green vegetables, one glass of ayran, dried fruits

Day 4: Vegetable muffin, one glass of milk, dried fruits

Day 5: Two to three slices of vegetable meat pie, one bowl of yogurt, walnuts

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