In the run-up to the board exams, students have a tendency to put on weight. Nutritionists attribute it to inactivity, stress and over-eating.
"During board exams, most children have a tendency to put on weight because they only eat and study. There is no physical activity to help them improve their basal metabolic rate (BMR); therefore the weight gain," said Ritika Samaddar, chief dietician at Max healthcare.
The problem is compounded by the fact that mothers have a tendency to serve food, which may not be healthy at times, to their children. "Snacks given to the child should be high in protein or high in complex carbohydrates. This increases attention span and reduces stress," she said.
Junk food and coffee should be avoided. "Students have a tendency to eat more to fight stress. They eat the wrong kind of food such as chips, aerated drinks, coffee, etc. I advise students to take small meals but eat more often; this helps improve digestion without causing lethargy." said Samaddar.
Sugar-rich food and juices containing unsaturated fats should be avoided at all costs, say dieticians.
"The unlimited cups of tea and coffee students take to stay awake also add to the weight gain. Not just the tea and coffee, the high amount of sugar is also harmful. Children do not realize that one teaspoon of sugar contains 20 calories. Similarly, five cups contain 100 calories multiplied into cumulative number of days that a child spends studying," said Sachi Sohal, senior dietician at BLK super speciality.
Refined sugars instantly go into the blood stream, which may lead to mood swings, she said. "Children need good nutrition because it serves as good fuel for the brain."
"Strong tea and coffee to keep awake are a strict no as they cause heartburn," said Deepshikha (who goes by the first name), dietician at Jaipur Golden Hospital.
"Tea contains tannin and coffee contains caffeine, both of which are harmful if consumed in excess quantity as they add to anxiety and lethargy," she warned.
Children should have protein-rich food such as more pulses and boiled eggs. Omega 3 rich food such as fish, almonds or walnuts should also be consumed regularly.
"Milk consumption should be increased as it is a complete meal by itself," said Nidhi Sarin, clinical nutritionist at Fortis hospital.
"Carbohydrate and fat consumption should go down as it has a tendency to make people lazy. This simply means less paranthas, less butter and ghee," she said, adding: "Small meals could be consumed every two or three hours."
Nutritionists also advise increased intake of vitamin C, which helps in increasing in white blood cells in the body. This helps increase inflammation power-which helps boost immunity in children.