Nutrition tips for the start of school from the expert

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 (Image: Pixabay CC0)
(Image: Pixabay CC0)
The summer vacations are drawing to a close and it is time to prepare the children for the start of the new school year. For some children, it’s even the start of a whole new chapter in their lives. But how do you best prepare your offspring in terms of nutrition to cope with everyday school life? Sandra Holasek, nutrition expert from Med Uni Graz, gives helpful nutrition tips for breakfast, snack and beyond.

Energy for learning

Food provides the "fuel" we need to get through the day successfully. Meal and drinking rhythms are very important for optimal nutrient supply. From the perfect breakfast to a portioned snack to a shared lunch or dinner: Proper nutrition should always be kept in mind. For schoolchildren in particular, breakfast and a break are probably among the most important meals for a good start to the day.

Daily companions: 6 glasses (glass that fits in hand) of water/mineral water, unsweetened teas or highly diluted vegetable and fruit juices; 3 servings (fist-sized) of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit; 4 handfuls of pasta/rice/potato/bread; 2 glasses of yogurt/buttermilk and 2 slices of cheese; 2 tablespoons of nuts, 1 tablespoon of oil.
Per week: 1-2 palm-sized pieces of fish, up to 3 times palm-sized pieces of meat and sausage.

A good start to the day

Breakfast should be balanced. Dark bread, cheese, oatmeal, fruit, nuts and seeds provide plenty of energy to start the school day. "With this variety of different foods, you also achieve good satiety and a slow supply of carbohydrates with a balanced sugar intake and avoid fatigue," says Sandra Holasek from the Otto Loewi Research Center at Med Uni Graz. Nuts are excellent sources of fat and are full of vitamins - especially from the B group and vitamin E. The unsaturated fatty acids have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system and blood lipid levels.

The right snack

The snack provides the necessary energy boost after several hours of concentrated learning. Here, too, long-term energy suppliers such as whole grain products or nuts are the trump card. Fruit and vegetables are also welcome in the snack box. Dairy products such as yogurt or curd cheese provide protein and calcium.

It is particularly important - especially for smaller children: Those who don’t eat breakfast should at least have a drink and pack a larger snack," explains Sandra Holasek. Children should also have a say in what they eat for breakfast and snack. What does he or she particularly like? What does the child not like at all? Every once in a while, the child should be allowed to decide for himself or herself what he or she wants in order to keep motivation high.

Profile: Sandra Holasek

Sandra Holasek heads the Nutrition and Metabolism research unit at the Otto Loewi Research Center. The focus is on nutritive assessment and methods for standardization of nutritional interventions, measurement of body composition, nutrient intake and analysis of relevant metabolites (focus on adipocyte biology). Another focus is the influence of diet quality and gut microbiome on the immune system in relation to eating disorders, lifestyle, body fat and age.