5 Food Habits To Improve Your Child’s Focus And Retention For Exam Revision
Created by Huda Shaikh Updated on Feb 02, 2020
Exams!!! Just the word itself resonates with ‘stress’. The days and months preceding the exam dates are very challenging for your child – physically, mentally and psychologically. I find parents asking for a diet plan for their child before the exams and the common concerns are: ‘My daughter tires easily while studying…what foods can provide more energy?’ and ‘my son is very distracted… what can I feed him to increase his concentration?’ and yes, the topmost concern is ‘how to boost my child’s memory and learning abilities?’ – in a nutshell, most parents come looking for ways to improve their child’s focus and retention prior to exams.
Yes, better nutrition can definitely give your child an edge during exam time and there is a lot you can do to prep up your child for the mental marathon that awaits him/her. Here’s what you can do…
1. Make friends with breakfast: Start your child’s day with a healthy breakfast loaded with nutrients. It’s the time of the day when the brain needs glucose to function optimally. A wholesome breakfast is a sure shot way to boost memory and this is important as your child enters the course revision stage. When your child has breakfast, s/he will feel better equipped to deal with the challenges of the day. Researchers have recorded that children who do not have a good breakfast are not able to concentrate in school as well as children who have had a good wholesome breakfast.
This may pose a challenge for some, as it’s a known fact that when a child is tense, s/he would try and skip her/his breakfast because s/he is unable to stomach it. So the best thing to do is to cook up something that your child finds hard to say ‘no’ to. To spur that urge to eat, offer your child variety through the week. How about a chocolate or banana pancake with nuts and fruits? Or a cheesy omelette with vegetables? Other ideas: Dosa with a potato and vegetable stuffing; French toast with honey and a sprinkling of almond shaves and flaxseeds; healthy paranthas like methi parantha or gajar parantha… just think through a week’s breakfast plan in advance and prep up the night before, if you are a working mom. And yes, a glass of milk with Horlicks would take care of the missing nutrition and keep your child in top form.
2. Snack intelligently: Snacking smartly is the best way to keep your energy levels going through the day. Instead of chips, biscuits or farsan, opt for brain boosting foods like a handful of nuts, a fruit… (more ideas below). Say a big no to sweets or chocolates as these can lead to a crash in the energy levels. If your child has a sweet craving, opt for a mixed fruit custard or banana custard with chocolate sauce (yummm!).
All children love colour, so make the snacks as colourful as possible. Make colourful dosas or chapattis by adding fresh beetroot juice or spinach juice to the batter or dough. Add fresh veggies and make a vibrant dosa or uthappam. Healthy and protein-rich, moong dal chilla or green gram dosa is perfect for a mid-morning or evening snack or try a protein-rich besan chilla with veggies. Children love cheese and most can have it for all their meals…right? Try a grilled sandwich with a filling of vegetables and cheese; soya tikkis with a sprinkling of cheese or a cheesy corn chaat… just get thinking!
3. Smaller and lighter meals: Ensuring that your child is well-fed is one thing, over feeding is quite another. Eating a heavy meal just before a revision session or an exam paper or in any scenario is not a good idea. It would make your child sluggish and drowsy. So the meals through the day should be nutritious and light. Vegetable Upma, mixed vegetable noodles; idli-sambhar; protein-packed paneer or chicken sandwich – all of these can replace the dal-roti-subzi routine, so your child looks forward to the smaller/lighter meals that are packed with nutrition too. And yes, do not deprive your child cakes and other bakery food; make it an occasional treat after he finishes a good round of revision!
4. Send your child outdoors: All work and no play can make your child dull! Your child needs the outdoors and a work out to digest his food and to clear his mind of all the stress and anxiety. All the nutrition is a waste if s/he is not digesting the food properly. After a round of fresh air, s/he will come back refreshed and hungry, ready for the next snack and the next round of revision! However, make sure that your child consumes a fruit or a handful of nuts before play time since exercising on an empty stomach may drain your child of energy and lead to irritability.
5. Zzzzzzzzz, sleep time: Children may get into the habit of studying late, especially during revision time since the exams are so close and they feel they are running out of time. This can be very exhausting for the brain. Encourage your child to sleep on time and start early in the morning. Your child requires at least 8 hours of sleep so that s/he can retain all the information and perform well. To induce relaxation and sleep, a warm glass of milk with Horlicks can go a long way to sooth the mind after all that learning.
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