The traditional Iranian medicine offers one of the best food patterns for school-age children who must follow a proper nutritional pattern to strengthen their memory and get the required energy for better learning.
In an interview with Dr Yahya Zeynalpour Fattahi, a practitioner and assistant professor at Tehran University of Medical Sciences, the Jame Jam daily has reviewed some of the basic and applied principles in nutrition of school children based on traditional Iranian medicine. What follows are excerpts of his recommendations:
In traditional medicine, habits are part of the secondary nature of man. It means that changing one's habits is very difficult and sometimes causes problems. Therefore, parents need to gradually change the children's behavioral and nutritional habits, especially in the early days of school.
It must be noted that the nutritional behaviours of a student derive from the family behaviours. So, all families should participate in the implementation of good nutritional principles in order to make it more successful. Parents should consider healthy meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and school nutrition of a student. These meals must be able to provide optimal growth and memory enhancement and learning.
The temperament of students is warm and moist (sanguine), which is the best temperament for growth. Therefore, their nutrition should naturally be oriented towards a warmer diet, although in some obese children, certain measures must be taken. If we take into account the seasonal temperaments of fall and winter during the school year, the food and drink they consume should be warm and moist in humour. For example, the use of very hot spices and stimulants in children is not recommended. Whole wheat breads are good options in the form of homemade sandwiches with vegetables and some lamb or chicken. Homemade sweets made from almonds, white figs, dates (2-3 per day), carrots, sweet apples, raisins and leblebi are smart choices as well.
The use of carrot, fig, orange, apple, and quince jam along with butter or grape syrup is good for children with weakness and anemia, especially in the fall season, and it is better to be served with whole boiled cow's milk. Boiled egg is one of the best foods that can be used for breakfast. Two daily glasses of sweet apples and carrot juice are recommended too. According to the season, sweet pomegranate juice is also useful for liver cleansing.
If the food is healthy and the temperament is moderate, it will help the body's health and boost memory and understanding by eliminating laziness. As the child's temperament is ultimately gentle, to have mental health and better concentration they must be prevented from sleeplessness. Some foods and drinks that enhance memory include figs, pistachios, hazelnuts, sweet almonds, walnuts, saffron, and cow's milk. Families can give schoolchildren a combination of ten nuts as a nutritional supplement as well.
Traditional medicine in Iran says that if the habit of eating some kind of food is harmful, its use should be discontinued. Harmful foods like potato chips, cokes, fast foods and even most of the cakes and some biscuits should not be included in the nutrition program of students at school.
If warm food is served to the child, it is advised to use vegetable oils with unsaturated fatty acids. Go for dishes with lots of vegetables. It is suggested that families provide a student with a package of nutrition, including bread, some fruits and some nuts. Do not forget the diversity in these packages. Most importantly, make sure you have a non-plastic container for your child's drinking water.