Since becoming a nutritionist, I have a habit of scanning people’s shopping carts when they are in the grocery stores - particularly if they have children with them.  I am often shocked at what I see in the carts… actually - frightened is more the term.  Sugar laden, pre-packaged foods, rolls of salty, nitrate soaked luncheon meats, neon-colored fruit drinks packed into tiny plastic bottles, and cookies, cakes and all sorts of sticky snacks, all designed to look “fun”.  But when did we decide that eating had to look “fun”?  What used to happen when food just looked like… food?

A sandwich is no longer fun unless it’s shaped like a dinosaur, and macaroni and cheese went from creamy comfort to traffic-cone orange!  What is in those rolled up “fruit things” is not only scary, but apparently, they smell bad when left in lockers and lunchboxes.  Yuck!

Are your kids sluggish in the afternoon? 

If the teacher tells you that your kid is falling asleep by mid-morning, or they are sluggish at 2 PM, check the lunchbox – as this may be where the problem started.  See, kids need stabilized blood sugar levels throughout the day in order to maintain focus and be active.  Low blood sugar, called hypoglycemia, is very common in children and this is also frequently linked to the child’s behavior patterns.  Out come the clipboards and diagnoses… and we are all too aware what that may lead to – a diagnosis and medication.  What is quite often the problem, is food – the wrong amounts and the wrong kinds.

What's in your kids lunch box?

Packing a lunch that delivers high quality protein (no, that is not bologna!), quality fats (like those found in nuts and seeds, avocados, lean REAL meats (not processed luncheon meats), beans, natural cheese and yogurt) allow blood sugar to remain stable as these proteins are digested slowly and provide for long-term energy needs.  A variety of complex carbohydrates found in whole grains, as well as colored veggies and fruits will sustain optimum energy levels as well as sharpen attention levels. Lunch is no fun without a treat of some kind, but keeping it to something homemade or natural is better than something electric blue or laced with sugars.

Nutritious lunches do take a little more time and planning, but the payoffs are the foundation of a lifetime.  Learning is hard work and to make it to the top of the class, you need to provide quality fuel for growing little brains.  

Scrumptious ideas:
  • homemade soup/pastas in a heat-safe storage container 
  • oatmeal cookie, 
  • veggie sticks and hummus 
  • fruit salads 
  • pitas stuffed with natural, lean meats and cheeses, or egg salad 
  • yogurt 
  • sandwiches made with whole grains topped with veggies and avocados
  • homemade muffins chock full of raisins, apples, fruits and honey
Adding a good quality multi-vitamin and mineral supplement, as well as supplementing with a good quality fish oil that contains both DHA and EPA (long words that are usually abbreviated to mean “really good for brain development”) are essential to learning and development.  

If you want your kids at the top of the class, feed their brains what it really wants – good, wholesome food.

Erin Bell

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