Published on September 19th, 2016 | by SOMDParents0
What’s for Lunch? Brain Food.
Lunch. That wonderful 45 minute break from the monotony of class time. That time of social freedom where each child can choose who they want to sit next to and what snacks they want to trade. Kids see lunch as a break in the day to enjoy the company of friends and fill up on sugar, while parents should see lunch as an opportunity to give children’s brains and bodies a midday power boost. So what’s for lunch? Brain food.
The importance of school meals is underscored by the current state of the health and nutrition of our nation’s children. Obesity is our fastest-growing public health issue with roughly 1 out of 3 children overweight or obese. The lack of access to proper nutrition is also leading to food insecurity and hunger among our children. An estimated 16.7 million children live in households that experience hunger multiple times throughout the year. Meanwhile, school-age children are not eating the recommended levels of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.
So what are some brain foods that will help your children stay focused and energized for the remainder of the day?!
Avocado- It’s hard to learn if you can’t see the chalkboard (or – these days – the computer screen). Avocados are rich in lutein and
vitamin E, nutrients that are linked to better eye health. And because lutein and vitamin E require fat for absorption, avocados are the perfect delivery vehicle. Mash some up with lime juice, garlic, and cilantro and serve with all natural tortilla chips for a healthy side of guacamole!
Yogurt- If your child is moody and can’t concentrate, regularly eating yogurt might help. According to a Texas Tech University study, probiotics, live bacteria found in certain foods like yogurt, can enhance the production of brain chemicals that alleviate stress and anxiety. That said, all yogurts aren’t created equally. Steer clear of kiddy versions that have been pumped up with sugar and artificial colors and opt for lower sugar adult varieties instead, like Greek or Fruit on the Bottom!
Almonds- These little nuts are powerhouses, rich in vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Almonds are also high in protein, healthy unsaturated fat, and fiber, yet low in sugar—helping to keep your kids full and focused. The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and magnesium in almonds help to strengthen the nerves in the brain, making them effective brain food. Try them in homemade granola bars or buy Nutri-Grain bars with almonds!
Nut Butter- Nut butters contain all the benefits of nuts: full of fiber, protein, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals. While they are high in fat, it’s the kind that (in moderation) keeps your kid full, focused, and satiated longer. Instead of a handful of pretzels as a snack, pack 2 tablespoons of nut butter and apple slices.
Berries- Small but mighty, berries are loaded with nutrients, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that help prevent diseases like diabetes. Plus, they’re a sweet, low-calorie treat. Add berries, like vitamin-C-rich strawberries, to smoothies, yogurt, muffins, or peanut butter sandwiches!
There are several more brain foods including eggs, beans and salmon! Try out different recipes that you think your kids might like! You never know until you try! The most important thing is that your child has a belly full of good, nutritious food when they go back to class and are ready to learn.