“Breakfast in Italy is consumed appropriately by only about one student in three. 40% instead eat it improperly, insufficiently, inadequately. And even another 30% skip this important meal.” And the photograph of the Italian school population struggling with food choices in the morning, taken by the pediatrician Italo Farnetani, full professor at the Ludes University-United Campus of Malta. It happens before the bell that starts the day in the classroom. “Then there is the start of lessons and until 10am, if you look at the chronobiological rhythms, the body still does not function at full capacity, so much so that it is advisable to start with lighter lessons and subjects and not homework in class”, explains the expert to time.news Salute. And it is after this first phase that the first strategic ‘pit stop’ occurs: the mid-morning snack. Password: “No to the state apple”, smiles the expert.
This first snack “is an even more important moment because it opens the second phase, the one with greater performance. It therefore acts as a prelude to the so-called ‘golden hours’ of learning and becomes a crucial point precisely to put students in a position to learn the maximum”, warns the white coat of children. The ideal snack? “No more standardization. And yes to the snack prepared at home or bought by the student together with his parents or alone. A tailor-made snack”, recommends Farnetani. “It’s a way to have a ‘piece of home’ in your backpack and guarantee that continuity between home and school desired by pedagogists, paediatricians, psychologists. There have been cases in which it has been recommended to give an apple as a mid-day snack. morning. I instead say: no to the State apple – he reiterates – no to the snack provided directly by the school. If, as we have seen, 70% of children eat an insufficient breakfast or skip it at all, how can we think of making them face the most important hours only with a fruit?”, asks the pediatrician.
“The strict indications from a nutritional point of view can therefore be left for the rest of the day’s diet – continues Farnetani – In the mid-morning snack it is important that the student introduces the right amount of nutritional principles. A snack prepared by the family contributes to support the formation of one’s individuality – rather than massification – and if the snack is in line with one’s own taste and preferences, based on foods personally chosen to obtain maximum satisfaction, the student will also eat it more willingly to arriving in good shape for the following hours of study, also obtaining even a minimal lift in mood, which never hurts”.
It is right, according to Farnetani, “that the pupil eats as much as he is hungry, that he brings a plentiful mid-morning snack from home and that schools give sufficient time for recess. In the past there has been debate on what could be the ideal choice: if the snack were to be provided by the school, according to the correct nutritional dictates, or brought from home with the risk that the children, in the event of inappropriate choices, would perhaps eat too much, favoring overweight and obesity. I think it is right leave freedom of choice and let the children feed freely in this space, because snack time is precisely a crucial watershed that precedes the time slot between 11 and 13, a very prolific moment in which short memory prevails, l Attention is at its maximum, and things are understood more quickly.”
The break in class “is even more important in light of the fact that, even if after the night break nutritional principles are essential in the morning to give energy to the body and also to the mind, many children miss this appointment”. As for eating style, the pediatrician points out, “I perfectly agree with the proposal and hope of the Minister of Health Orazio Schillaci who pushes for the promotion of the Mediterranean diet, the intangible heritage of humanity, and invites people to prefer foods km 0, a guarantee of food safety, in my opinion to be favored also for a question of roots and traditions to be cultivated at the table. However, to be sure that this diet is well accepted, it is necessary to favor the foods” of this diet “that children like them, suited to their taste.”
Rainbow diet? “It is obvious that colors are a great invitation to intake and that the diet must be varied – confirms Farnetani – but there are some colors that people like more and it can be strategic to take advantage of them: for example the red of the tomato is the most attractive, as some studies also demonstrate. But also the green of pesto, which is the most accepted condiment also due to the flavor of parmesan, the cheese most loved by children. In this regard – the doctor continues to list – pasta is an element fundamental part of the Mediterranean diet and children like it a lot, especially if they favor the short and ‘small size’ version. And also the margherita pizza. The color also makes peas particularly popular, as they are small and are chewed well and have a round shape very appreciated. Another element of sure success is the oil, for its color and transparency. Ultimately – concludes the pediatrician – it is good to open the doors of school canteens to the Mediterranean diet. And the proposed menu does not have to be the same from North to South, but in common it must have the quality of being a diet based on products grown and prepared a short distance from school. This should really be a directive, governed by the school regulations.”
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