Fueling Success: How Good Nutrition Enhances Your Child’s School Performance
We often don’t equate school performance with what our children eat and we should. Studies from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) link healthy eating habits with higher academic achievement. It is important to remember that the brain consumes 20% of the body’s energy and needs to be fueled. Think of your car. Without the proper fuel it runs sluggishly or not at all. It’s the same with our children. Neurotransmitters are the fuel of brain functioning. Unfortunately, our kids are attracted to highly processed foods that taste good in the moment but are bad fuel in the long run. These foods are OK for an occasional treat. However, consistent intake of highly processed foods will lead to an imbalance of neurotransmission in the brain and result in mood disorders, memory problems, and an inability to focus in school. To create a healthy balance of neurotransmitters our brains require foods that are a mixture of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Nutrients like omega-3, fatty acids, B vitamins and antioxidants improve memory and attention and help regulate mood and sleep. And it is important to remember that brain rich foods support new brain cells and connections necessary for our children to adapt to increasing academic demands of school.
Examples of brain rich foods:
- Fish including: salmon, trout, sardines, tuna, and mackerel
- Nuts and Seeds
- Leafy Greens
- Whole Grains
- Dark Chocolate
Let’s start with breakfast. It creates the foundation of a productive and successful day for our kids. I know you are busy and it can be challenging to make sure your child is getting what they need in the midst of preparing for work in the morning and sending them off to school. Be that as it may, a few minutes of prep time will ultimately save you time and make the morning less chaotic. Here are some suggestions for a healthy breakfast:
- Instant oatmeal
- Whole grain cereal with dried fruits, nuts, and low-fat milk or soy milk
- Egg breakfasts with a minimum of fat
- High protein yogurt with fruit
- Whole wheat bread with peanut butter or cheese
- Fruit salad with cottage cheese
- A shake blended with yogurt, milk or soy milk, and fruit.
Check out these links for ideas on how to take time to make time and get your child properly fueled for a successful day of school.
Written by David Hoy PhD, MA, LP
Executive Director David Hoy & Associates
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