When it comes to nourishing your child while he or she studies for exams, keeping a balanced blood sugar level is key. “Sugar highs and lows, which will happen when one eats candy or processed foods in general, will impact on concentration and also, our immune system,” says Karin G Reiter, a nutritionist in private practice.
Charlotte Lin, a senior dietitian at the paediatric feeding and nutrition clinic at National University Hospital, agrees: “Consistency is key and therefore, a regular, well-balanced diet from various food groups will ensure that your child receives adequate calories, proteins, vitamins and minerals.”
Here are some easy, fun and nutrient-rich snacks you can offer:
Bananas are a filling, mood-boosting snack. “They give an almost instant boost in energy without the sugar crash from eating a candy bar,” says Karin. “They are also high in potassium, which is great for muscle and nerve function.” Best part? Bananas are easily available and affordable.
2. FROZEN YOGURT
Yogurt is a fantastic source of calcium, needed to build bones and also for proper muscle function. It is also rich in protein. “When we eat yogurt, we balance out blood glucose levels and this helps us stay focused, satisfied and full for a longer period of time,” says Karin.
Offer some chilled or frozen plain yogurt, paired with raw almonds. “Almonds are rich in vitamin E, which protects our immune system and helps our complexion,” says Karin. Add a handful of cut fruit or berries to sweeten the snack.
3. MILK & DIGESTIVES
Charlotte suggests offering “a glass of low-fat milk with one or two digestive biscuits or plain crackers”. Milk is a good source of calcium and vitamins B6 and B12, which can help improve mental sharpness and lift your child’s mood.
It’s easy to know why walnuts are great for anyone who is studying, Karin remarks, as “they look like a brain”! Jokes aside, these nuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that help boost brain function.
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5. COCONUT-CUCUMBER SMOOTHIE
For a refreshing, nourishing and naturally sweet drink, blend 1 cup fof resh coconut water, ¼ pineapple (peeled and chopped into smaller pieces), a handful of fresh mint and 1 small cucumber (peeled). “The coconut water is nature’s multi-vitamin. The drink is a mood booster,” says Karin.
6. DARK CHOCOLATE
We’re talking about dark chocolate that has a cacao content of at least 70 per cent. Offer two squares for an antioxidant-rich treat. “Cacao is rich in 33 minerals including iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium and many more. If you want to take it up a level, look for raw, non-processed chocolate bars found in health food stores,” Karin explains.
7. TUNA SANDWICHES
A more substantial, and savoury, snack would be sandwiches made with softgrain bread and a filling of tuna mixed with low-fat mayo, says Charlotte. Other fillings you can consider include cheese slices and fruit jams.