Back to School Nutrition for Better Learning
It's back to school time so kids and parents are looking forward to the new school year. The kids are sharpening their pencils, and eager to see their friends and start learning again.
Being smart with your kids nutrition can go a long way in fostering better learning. I have seen this far to often where nutrition is over looked and likely contributing to poor ability to focus for many kids. This is especially the case for children diagnosed with learning disorders.
Whether your child suffers from learning disorders or not, taking these simple nutrition smart steps will make a big difference. The first step is simply to ensure and encourage that your kids are eating all three meals.
You see, if you skip meals, what tends to happen is that blood sugar levels start to fall, and the first organ to sense this is our brains. A child's brain is even more sensitive to fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
If your child is a small eater or a picky eater, that's fine, even healthy snacks, or smaller meals including balanced levels of healthy grains and a source of protein will do the trick. Encourage that your child have some source of protein with grains at meals.
For instance, a whole wheat sandwich with two slices of whole wheat bread and some chicken breast, or ham, or cheese, or egg salad would be a simple option.
If your child prefers snacks then some whole wheat crackers with cheddar cheese and some fruit like an apple, or an orange would be practical. Another example would be a low fat granola bar with a yogurt or yogurt drink.
The take home message is to try your best to encourage a protein source with a grain or a fruit. The healthy carbs from the grains and or the fruit would be complimented by the protein foods to slow down and sustain a more even blood sugar level. This equates to better energy levels, better focus, and better learning at class time.
Also, meals that are lighter to digest will also help with energy levels and focus. So balanced meals, while keeping portions in perspective is also important.
For healthy desserts, encourage more fruit and or yogurt. Yogurt provides probiotics for better digestion and is also a good source of calcium, and high quality protein. This will satisfy your child's sweet fix, while providing good brain nutrition.
If your child has a food intolerance or allergy, then of course simply provide healthy alternates. For instance, soy based yogurt for those kids that are lactose intolerant, or gluten free grain options for those kids that may be gluten intolerant.
Just explore a variety of healthy protein and grain options with your kids, engage them in the process so they feel that they are empowered and this will motivate their intake.
Even though I have been talking a lot about grains and protein foods, and encouraging them at meals, be sure to foster overall balanced nutrition at most all meals which means trying to include food favorites from all food groups.
In other words, include vegetables, fruit, dairy and or alternates, meat and or alternates, grains and healthy fat options throughout the day. Just use your creativity, engage the kids, and have fun with it. Incorporate these same dietary patterns for yourself and you will all be smarter.