FOCUSING in class after a summer off school can be hard for children — especially if they’re not getting the right food.
Nutritionists warn an unbalanced packed lunch can disrupt your kid’s learning and development.
However, there are a range of foods you can give them to best prepare them for the school day.
From bananas to tuna, and what bread or pasta to choose, nutritionists at Bulk.com have developed a list of tasty treats that can improve your child’s focus.
A spokesperson for the company said: “Foods that promote energy and reduce fatigue are vital in a packed lunch and can keep a child alert in lessons.
“Include foods that are rich in vitamin B or have a low glycaemic index in your child’s packed lunch as these are great for energy.”
Wholegrain bread or pasta
You should always aim to give your child wholegrain bread or pasta when available, nutritionists say.
The brown stuff has a lower glycaemic index — a measure of how quickly food makes your blood sugar and insulin levels spike — than white bread, ensuring they feel energised for longer.
Dr Duane Mellor, a dietitian at Aston Medical School in Birmingham, said: “Children learn and work better if they have a regular pattern, including meals.
“This is best if the meals are varied and healthy including vegetables and fruit as well as sources of energy such as wholemeal or wholegrain bread or pasta.”
Chickpeas are a healthy source of protein that can keep your child feeling full and boost their growth and development.
The vegan option help give them the amino acids they need.
Dr Mellor said: “If children like them, pulses like beans in a salad or chickpeas as a snack in hummus can help.”
A spokesperson for Bulk.com said: “Chickpeas are a great source of protein and can be turned into hummus to dip into with carrots, bell peppers and cucumber.
“This is great for a packed lunch and can be prepared in advance.”
Another great protein source is beans.
White beans also contain iron, which boosts energy, and can help your child focus by making them feel full.
A spokesperson said: “Try serving white beans such as cannellini beans or haricot beans in a cold wholegrain pasta salad.”
One energy-packed ‘superfood’ you’ll probably already have at home is bananas.
The popular fruit is packed with nutrients that help sustain concentration over long periods, giving your child a welcome boost in the classroom.
A spokesperson said: “Bananas have fibres that help the body absorb the natural sugars in the banana slowly, preventing an energy crash, which can keep them going in lessons.
“This makes a perfect snack before lunch, at break time.”
Spinach is another no-brainer when it comes to improving focus.
The leafy green is a great source of vitamins A, C and K1, as well folic acid and iron, which help create red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body.
It is also tastier if you buy the young or baby variety.
A spokesperson said: “Replace lettuce in your child’s sandwiches with washed and dried baby spinach leaves.
“This easy replacement is a great way to boost your child’s nutrient intake without them knowing.
“It is important to note that baby spinach is more tender and sweeter than mature spinach.”
Avocados may be a millennial favourite — but they’re great for school children too.
The Mexican staple contains vitamins C, E, K, B3, B5 and B6.
A spokesperson said: “Homemade guacamole with oven-roasted pitta or tortillas can be a great addition to your child’s packed lunch and a healthier alternative to a packet of crisps.
“Oven-roasted tortilla or pitta can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week, perfect for prepping in advance.”
Tuna is full of omega 3s, a vital nutrient that contributes towards brain development.
Studies have linked it to better performance at school, with experts saying it helps improve cognitive function and sleep.
A spokesperson said: “Tuna in spring water should be used, rather than those canned in brine or oil, as these are high in salt and fat.
“Tuna can be used for a homemade sandwich filler or pasta salad, lasting in the fridge for two to three days.”
Citrus fruits like grapefruit are packed full of vitamin C and A, which help boost immune systems.
This can help your kid stay well during flu season, meaning they can focus on their studies instead of blowing their noses.
A spokesperson said: “If grapefruit is too bitter for your child, oranges or easy peelers are a great option for your child.
“If your child is a fan of sour sweets, some lemon juice over the segments can be a healthier treat for their sour tastebuds.”
Mango is full of healthy nutrients that boost your child’s brainpower, and can be even tastier when dried.
A spokesperson said: “This is a great alternative to sweets, as they are extremely chewy and sweet.
“Dried mango is high in vitamin C and dietary fibre, great for immunity and can promote a feeling of fullness.”
Kefir is a fermented milk that is full of calcium, which helps support your child’s bones.
The tangy drink also has three times more probiotics than yoghurt, making it a great gut-boosting substitute in a packed lunch.
A spokesperson said: “Fruit-flavoured Kefir can be purchased from supermarkets and be given to your child instead of standard fruit-flavoured yoghurt or fromage frais.”