Get the uniforms ready, check for mouldy lunch boxes in the school bags, and brush everyone’s hair – it’s time to go back to school.
The start of a new term is a good time to start some new habits.
Improving behaviour and mood is a great motivator to make some changes to the routine, so here are my top 5 habits to implement.
Go to school on an egg or paleo bread.
Ditch the Weetbix or toast.
These foods are highly inflammatory, high glycemic index, and lacking in nutrients.
Eggs, on the other hand are a good source of fat and protein, high in choline (a nutrient needed to produce acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter for memory, mood, muscle control, and other brain and nervous system functions).
If your kids are fixated on a “toast-like” breakfast, try my paleo coconut bread. It has lots of eggs, and quite frankly it’s like having cake for breakfast. Your child will focus better, and won’t be hungry as quickly
Include two veggies in the lunch box.
The closer a diet is to a Mediterranean diet, the less their chance of developing ADHD.
Mediterranean diets are high in fresh, seasonal fruit and veggies.
Primary school aged children need 5 serves of vegetables a day. If you try to get all 5 serves into dinner, you will never get there. By having one serve at munch and crunch, and one serve at lunch, you might just get to the 5 serves.
As well as containing lots of important nutrients, and being low glycemic index, they also displace less nutritious food from the lunchbox.
Mix it up and try different veggies until you find ones your child will eat. You can have traditional crudité types like carrots, cucumber or capsicum. Or try leftover cooked veggies from the night before – some broccoli which has been roasted with bacon, or sweet potato chips. Don’t give up if they come home for the first few days, new habits take time!
No devices at the dinner table.
School holidays (especially wet ones!) can involve lots of iPad and TV.
They might even creep up to the dinner table, even if they don’t usually.
So starting from Monday, put them away again!
Screen time has a bad effect on children’s behaviour, and they will already have spent time in front of a screen at school. Dinner is a time to socialise, talk about how everyone’s day went, and enjoy a shared meal. Children who eat dinner together with their parents have better vocabularies.
Of course, it is not always possible to get the whole family together every evening, so just make an effort to achieve it at least a few times a week.
Get outside and get moving!
ADHD has been called nature deficit syndrome, so get the kids out for an hour every day.
Prisoners get more outdoor time than school kids do! It a great chance for parents to de-stress and get some exercise too. Adults should be getting 10,000 steps day (your iPhone measures this for you!). So grab the bikes or scooters and get the kids out for an hour of exercise.
They will eat their dinner quicker and sleep better.
Start a ferment.
Fermented foods have a really positive effect on our gut health, and our brain health is directly related to our gut health. I see such positive results in improving behaviour and anxiety when children start to eat fermented foods.
There are lots to choose from, you can ferment most things (even fish!).
One of the easiest ones is sauerkraut juice. Once you have made it, just include it in foods and dressings (don’t heat it).
My other favourite is milk kefir, for children who tolerate dairy. Children who can’t have dairy can have coconut or water kefir instead. It may be very daunting to start fermenting, and you may have a few fails, but just have a go. Before we had fridges, fermenting was how we preserved vegetables. People didn’t know about different bacterial strains, or the effect on their gut health.
It was just a tradition and a way of life.