Nourishing a bright mind
ACCORDING to community nutritionist Christine Sorbello, a good breakfast, fresh fruit and vegetables and a serve or two of fish each week are all important for healthy brain development in kids.
"One of the most important things to do is have breakfast. It doesn't matter if it's cereal, or fruit and toast," Mrs Sorbello said.
"It's important to make sure they're eating fruit and vegetables to get all those vitamins and minerals."
Mrs Sorbello said carbohydrate-rich foods helped create energy to fuel active, young minds.
"Carbohydrate foods provide energy for your brain, things like wholegrain bread, pasta and rice," she said.
"Three meals plus snacks is pretty important for kids because they do use a lot of energy and it gives them that sustained energy."
Fish, which is rich in Omega 3, can help with both brain development and healthy daily functioning.
But Mrs Sorbello said including enough fish in the diet didn't have to break the bank, with cheaper options providing just as many benefits.
"Getting fish into your kids' diet is important, getting in one or two serves a week," she said.
"A tin of tuna has the same healthy oils (as more expensive fish) that are good for brain development."
Mrs Sorbello warned against mums and dads getting caught up in quick options for their children's snacks.
"Items that parents see as being convenient are not that great. Convenience, or perception of convenience can be a bit of a downfall for parents," she said.
Mrs Sorbello said it was possible to make easy switches to healthier options.
"An apple is just as convenient as a muesli bar or packet of chips," she said.
SWAP IT, DON'T STOP IT
Swapit.gov.au has plenty of suggestions for swapping unhealthy foods for healthy and nutritious alternatives:
- Ice-cream and topping > low-fat yoghurt with berries
- Cheese platter > fresh fruit platter
- Meat pizza > vegetarian pizza with low-fat cheese
- Butter on sandwiches > avocado
- Butter on potatoes > low-fat yoghurt
- Chocolate bar > small low fat chocolate milk
- Milk chocolate > small portion of dark chocolate
- Side of chips > side of salad
- Tuna in oil > tuna in spring water
- Baking with white flour > baking with wholemeal flour
- Ice blocks > pieces of frozen fruit
- Soft drinks > plain mineral water with lemon juice