back to school

Now the reality of back to school has a hit

The term is coming to an end and chaos and uncertainty abound. With the reality of school closures now hopefully behind us. The worries of how our kids’ education will be impacted and how they will cope have come to the forefront of our minds. 

Many of us are wondering if there is some small things we can do to help our kids’ physical and mental health without excessive time, cost, and disruption to the family unit.

Could it be as simple as tweaking the family meals?

As a lecturer of Nutritional Medicine, speaker, and clinical nutritionist of over 10 years, specializing in children’s health, I see when parents address the food intake of their children, most often this results in children performing significantly better and their health reflecting the same.


How does this work?

In essence, one of the most important parts of a child’s education is their brain function.

If the brain and the gut work hand-in-hand and Microbiome health directly affects brain function, how do we achieve both simultaneously?

Let’s consider the basics, Proteins, Carbs, and Fats and why they are important.

  • Proteins… the building blocks of neurotransmitters, the components of proteins are fundamental to brain and gut function.
  • Fats… whilst also providing stable energy levels, fats are vital to the transmission of signals along neurons.
  • Carbs…. in their unprocessed form, provide both energy and vital macro and micronutrients to support the function of proteins and fats. Though, at more than minimum levels, too many will cause an imbalance in both brain and gut function leaving both somewhat sluggish.


To translate this into practical food prep and planning we just need to consider combining a good quality protein, fat, and vegetable at each meal and snack and gain variety by mixing up the combinations. Don’t overstress the amounts of vegetables at first, as a little of a few is better than none.

School terms are hectic and random at times … true

When life gets busy with school routines and extracurricular activities and now with grocery purchasing uncertain, it is easy to turn to fast food options. Parents often tell me they resort to fast food as it is quick and ready in an instant. 

A great alternative is to have your own “fast” food treasure trove which can be easy with a bit of planning and “nearly right foods”. Leftovers from dinner are a great option or create extra serves at dinner ready for the next day. Stocking the freezer with single serves of all the backup plans you can think of works a treat. Look for best back up plans in the shops too and freeze these ahead. Things like pre-portioned proteins (leftover slices of roast) and protein-based muffins are a great easy option, Naturally, Nuts and nut bars work well too unless the school has the no nuts policy.


For last-minute grabs, do a bit of scouting and find where in your area has the best back up plan sources, remembering, it’s best to avoid packaged foods and processed carbs as much as possible.

At last, but not least, be kind to yourself if and when it all goes amiss…

Above all else, as I always advise parents – be kind to yourself when it doesn’t go to plan. A 90:10 plan will bring great rewards and help you lay the foundations for a successful and healthy 2020 school year.


About the author

Jacinta Callaghan

With extensive knowledge in Biochemistry, Microbiome, Genetics and Physiology and counselling, coupled with her qualifications in Nutritional Medicine and Emotional Health, Jacinta Callaghan is on a mission to help people better understand how amazing the human mind and body really are.
As a practicing Nutritional Medicine and Emotional Health specialist and former lecturer on Nutritional Medicine at Torrens University, Jacinta understands and treats people according to each individuals’ underlying causes, symptoms and back story.

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  • 30s – 1min plank
  • 30s – 1min bridge