Brain Food


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Brain Food

It seems like only yesterday when our teenager first walked into secondary school with a big schoolbag that was nearly as big as she was. The following six years have flown by and she will sit her Leaving Cert in the next few weeks. Young children can be persuaded to eat well and the fact that you are cooking their meals is a big factor.  With teenagers, now that’s a different matter altogether. It’s more a case that you have to motivate them to want to eat well, and at exam time that’s an even bigger complication. When you’re studying it’s very easy to reach for the sugary drinks, coffee, and sweet treats because they’re convenient and can be eaten on-the-go. The problem with these treats is that they result in sugar spikes and crashes. Trust me, if a teenager suffers a sugar crash, the whole family suffers.

The easiest way to gently encourage teenagers to eat well, I’ve found, is to make the healthier option the most convenient option. If there are homemade energy balls in the press then she will eat them because they are easier to get to than the shop 5 minutes’ walk down the road.

My Top 5 Brain Foods:

1. Sesame Seeds – they are rich in zinc which will help your memory. They’re also high in magnesium which helps with your stress levels. A pack of 300g pumpkin seeds costs €1.29.

2. Broccoli – Get the broccoli into you as it is an excellent source of Vitamin K which can help your brainpower – broccoli is priced at 99c this week.

3. Water – Keep hydrated all through the exam season and drink plenty of water. Not drinking enough water will stop you from feeling sleepy in a warm exam room too! A six pack of 750ml bottles of water is €1.85.

4. Oily Fish – Essential fatty acids are needed for the entire body, not forgetting a healthy brain, and they occur naturally in oily fish like salmon and mackerel. 3 Mackerel fillets this week are €2.99.

5. Eggs – Did you know you can get all your essential amino acids from 1 egg? There is great wisdom in starting your day with an egg! 6 free range eggs cost only €1.89!

For breakfast, I make sure that there are plenty of oats in the cupboard. In a hurry, the Lidl Oatilicious Oh So Easy sachets in the press (€1.19) take just minutes to make a filling breakfast in the morning that will last through until a mid-morning snack. If there’s a full fruit bowl with apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, and any other fresh seasonal fruit it’s simple for her to grab a piece of fruit as she passes. This week in the Lidl Super Savers you can buy a fresh Mango to add to the fruit bowl for just 49c! Click here to see their other supersavers!

Not forgetting that the parents of the exam students need a little bit of tlc as well. There’s nothing that says you shouldn’t be partial to an energy ball or three if required. Go easy on yourself over the next few weeks if you are worrying through the exams. It’ll all be over soon and you’ll wonder where that freshly pressed junior infant from many years ago has gone.

Finally, as parents we often meet the food/heat/nourish elements physically for our children but we also need to nourish the brain with laughter. See can you crack a laugh out of your teen over the course of the exams. It'll do them the world of good.

Best of luck to all the exam students and parents for the next couple of weeks. See you on the other side!

Caitríona's Top 10 Lidl products

1. Buttermilk
2. Organic or Free Range Eggs
3. Bananas
4. Porridge Oats
5. Popcorn Multipack
6. Seeded Bagels
7. Irish Diced Lamb
8. Cheddar Cheese
9. Mixed Beans Tin
10. Tomato Passata

Caitríona's Easy Nutritional Recipes

Try these slow release wholesome thrifty bites. These 'Leaving Cert Energy Balls' include oats for slow release energy, perfect for teens on study breaks.