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Back to School Nutrition for Peak Learning
Back to School Nutrition for Peak Learning
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that kids will learn better in school if they have proper nutrition. But what does that mean, and how can we support our children in developing a diet that helps them to perform at their best?
You’ve probably heard it said that food is both our best medicine and also our most damaging drug. Modern science is producing information that helps us to know how to feed ourselves, and especially our young people, to enhance quality of life and avoid unnecessary illness.
Children are constantly in a state of growth and development, so it is critical to give them the nutrients they need to support this natural process, and to reduce or eliminate those foods that interfere with it. Kids need a lot of fuel to generate the energy they require to live a kid’s life, so here are some guidelines you can use to decide how your children will be best fed.
- Children need a balanced blend of different types of foods to properly nourish their brain and body. Expose children to a combination of whole and natural foods as early in their lives as possible. Most kids naturally like fruits, and many of the sweeter vegetables, like carrots, celery, and cucumbers. Many love nuts, rich in healthy fats that enhance brain function. And most kids enjoy stone fruits like peaches, plums and cherries, melons, berries that are high in anti-oxidants to streamline the child’s metabolism, the many kinds of apples, grapes, and so on. They need some protein, as their body is in rapid growth, but choose the highest quality you can find. If you decide to give your child meat, eggs and dairy, do it in moderation and aim for foods free of additives, preservatives, antibiotics and drugs – selecting organic foods will mostly assure that you are getting untainted foodstuffs to give your kids the best raw materials possible.
Children tend to “pig out” on snack food and sweets if they are not supervised – take responsibility to monitor and when necessary re-direct your kids toward better diet alternatives. Most chips are loaded with unhealthy fats, which clog up your child’s physiology and interfere with normal body function. Cookies and candy are largely sugar, which blasts through your kid’s body, affecting their behavior, their weight, their attitude, and their overall energy for studying, playing, and co-existing with their friends.
Children needs the right combination of vitamins and minerals to keep them growing, and to keep them sharp mentally. Most would do better taking a supplemental multi-vitamin with minerals, since it’s hard to get enough of some nutrients only through food. Choose a high quality product, preferably organic – your child’s body chemistry, including the ability to think and reason effectively, depends on having these chemicals available in circulation. Overly processed foods often have the nutrients processed out of them – go with fresh, wholesome foods to maximize nutrition. And find out what greens they’ll eat – vegetables are naturally rich in vitamins and minerals.
A study by the American School Health Association (ASHA) showed that too little protein led to poorer test scores, and kids with a chronic iron deficiency were more likely to have attention deficit issues. Malnourished children are more prone to illness and school absenteeism.
Children may be subject to food pollution, as their foods may contain additives, colorings and preservatives that hurt their normal mind functions. Also, watch out for genetically modified foods – the best foods for your child will have a “non-GMO Project” seal on them. Some kids experience allergies, asthma, food sensitivities and other health problems -- read labels! This is your child you are looking out for, be discriminating and choose wisely.
It’s never too early to make good lifestyle decisions with your child. Your kids will tend to follow your lead, so if you eat well, they will likely eat better too. If parents are obese, it’s common that children follow in those footsteps – you need to know that your habits play a role in the formation of your child’s habits.
As you can see, feeding your children properly will have a pronounced
effect on their ability to learn and perform well in school. Remember it when
you feed them breakfast, pack their lunch, and prepare dinner. It can be the
difference between success and frustration for your kids at school.