School may be difficult, but by choosing the right foods, you can help set your child up for success. If children understand the differences between processed foods and nutrient-rich foods, they may even be able to get better grades, improve concentration and more.
Why Kids Need Brain Food
I’m sure by now everyone knows that food provides energy and builds strong bodies, but food can build strong brains too! Because our brains use 20% of our body’s energy, eating right is very important. If you have noticed that your child is hyperactive, tired, irritable or finding it hard to concentrate it could mean that they aren’t eating enough brain boosting food or are eating food that causes stress on the body.
Foods to Stay Away From
The typical American diet is full of fatty, processed foods that contain a ton of sugar, preservatives, additives and artificial dyes. There is no nutritional value or brain boosting power in French fries, ice cream or mac and cheese, and yet these are some of the most common children’s foods. In order to provide your child with brain-boosting power, it’s best to avoid these items:
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Sports Drinks, Sodas and Juice
- White Sugar and Bread
- Processed Snacks and Lunch Meat
- Partially Hydrogenated Oils
- Fast Food
- Kids Yogurt (Typically High in Sugar)
Top Brain Boosting Foods
The top brain boosting foods contain antioxidants, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and healthy fats. These foods have little to no sugar, aren’t processed and contain no artificial dyes. These are our favorite brain boosting foods:
- Berries. Berries are high in antioxidants, and the seeds actually contain omega-3 fatty acids. Studies conducted around blueberries have shown improvements in memory and learning. A breakfast berry smoothie can be a great alternative to a sugary breakfast cereal. Here’s a recipe!
- Eggs/Protein. Protein is used to make enzymes, hormones and is needed to build tissue. Eggs contain protein, and the yolks contain Choline, which is known to support memory development.
- Olive Oil & Avocados. Because our brains are nearly 60% fat it makes sense that a diet rich in fats would benefit brain function. With high fat diets more popular than ever, it may be time to try to incorporate more healthy fats into your family’s diet.
- Nuts and Seeds. If you don’t have an allergy, nut butters and seeds are a great way to keep the nervous system functioning correctly.
- Wild Salmon. Fish is a great addition to a diet between 2-3 times per week. Wild Salmon is considered to be one of the cleanest fish available and is packed with omega-3 fatty acids. Other fish that contain a high amount of oil are sardines and herring.
- Water. It is always important to stay hydrated but especially before a test or study time it. Dehydration is a cause of trouble focusing as well as making students less alert. It’s important to stick with plain water and avoid sugary juices.
A food allergy or intolerance can actually turn a good food into an anti-nutrient, doing more harm than good. Talk to your doctor to see if an allergy or sensitivity could be causing symptoms of a learning or behavioral issue in your child.