We all know that school life can be extremely hectic and finding time to eat, let alone eat well, is no easy task. Often, it just doesn’t seem important enough to warrant the effort.
In reality though, it’s even more important on those action-packed days to give your body and mind the kind of food that will boost your brain, body and spirit.
Putting to one side that there’s much debate as to the pros and cons of snacking overall, the reality is that we’re a nation of snack-lovers. In fact, findings from a Channel 4 survey of 11,000 British consumers in 2017 showed us to be the largest snackers in Europe.
So rather than attempting to go without, it seems more sensible to focus on making better choices. Swap out the custard creams and crisps for something that will stop hunger in its tracks without leaving you sluggish and irritable by lunch.
Here are my top seven snacks for the school day:
For many people, the humble banana is the go-to healthy convenience snack – and with good reason, as it’s brimming with mood-boosting potassium, fibre and vitamins. Take it to a whole other level by drizzling honey on top for some natural sweetness.
2. Apple with nut butter
Combine a tablespoon of peanut or almond butter with slices of apple, for a delicious and nutritious mix of flavours and textures. With squeezy, transferable pouches of nut butters now appearing in supermarkets, it’s never been easier to upgrade your fruit on the go.
3. Rice cakes
Most rice cakes (always check the label) are made from brown rice and therefore are a good source of fibre and carbohydrates. Top them with some protein and vitamin rich cottage cheese, along with delicious sundried tomato, to add extra flavour.
4. Trail mix
Typically a hiker-friendly combination of granola, dried fruit, nuts and occasionally pieces of dark chocolate, ‘trail mix’ provides the snacker with both instant and sustained energy. Whether you’re chowing down on shop-bought mix or one you made earlier, the only problem will be eating this in moderation.
5. Shop-bought fruit and nut bars
If you’re keen to buy rather than make your snacks, you’re in luck. There’s been an explosion of tasty, affordable natural fruit/nut bars in the last few years, and these are now stocked by most major supermarkets.
However, this comes with a warning to always check the ingredients. When it comes to "healthy" or "low fat" products, all is not always as it seems.
Of course, it is Bake Off season, so if you’d like a DIY approach, there are a wealth of easy to make, no-bake recipes available online.
6. Crudités with dip
Add a little oomph to your carrot and celery sticks with a tasty dip. Whether your tastes range from guacamole and salsa to beetroot hummus or luxurious cream cheese, a small amount of dip can make a big difference to mouth pleasure.
7. Dark-chocolate nuts or seeds
Eating well doesn’t have to be miserable. Try coating almonds in flavanol-packed dark chocolate (one containing 70 per cent cocoa solids or more) for a rich, satisfying snack that boosts magnesium levels along with overall energy.
Jo Steer is a teacher and experienced leader of SEND interventions and wellbeing strategies