Back to school is around the corner and our kids will need our help to make healthy changes now. Kids are eating more foods prepared outside of the home (which often means bigger portions), drinking more sodas, eating more processed foods and consuming less fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, nuts, seeds and beans. What’s more, in the last 30 years the percentage of U.S. children aged 6 to 11 who are overweight has nearly tripled. Other research shows that plaque building up inside arteries-the most common cause of heart disease-can begin in childhood.
When our kids skip breakfast, missing a morning meal has been linked with lower overall intake nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids. The brains only fuel comes from carbohydrates which convert into glucose (sugar). Complex carbohydrates such as those found in whole grain and beans take longer to break down into glucose (sugar) because of the high fiber content found in these food groups. These types of foods coming from complex carbohydrates avoid a mid-morning crash which could affect memory, focus, and concentration. Avoid: simple carbohydrates which turn quickly into glucose (sugar) such as sugary cereals, toaster pastries, and granola bars because lack both the nutrients and fiber. Overall, healthy eating can stabilize children’s energy, sharpen their minds, and even out their moods.
Brainy Breakfast Ideas
- Breakfast Burritos- Whole grain tortilla, black beans and scrambled eggs. Note: Use the whole egg not egg whites, because the fat/protein in the yolk can help calm the brain down and allow your kids the ability to focus and improve their concentration. Also, eggs from free-range chickens are raised without the use of antibiotics, with no arsenic-based additives.
- In hurry, pop in toaster 1-2 whole grain waffles and spread peanut butter and a little fruit preserve
- Fruit Smoothie- In a blender, blend 1 cup of milk or milk substitute, ½ cup of frozen fruit, ½ scoop of vanilla whey protein until smooth.
Laser Focus Lunch Foods
- Tuna Sandwich- Use whole pita pockets or whole grain bread with chunk light tuna. Note: I have used canned tuna and/or salmon because of their rich Omega 3 content. The brain loves Omega 3 rich foods which amazing brain booster.
- Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich- Note: It would be best to use organic peanut butter with fruit preserve instead of jelly because of the added sugar.
- Turkey wraps with black beans or kidney beans –they fight cholesterol with their high fiber content and fuel the brain longer. Add tomato (a fruit containing antioxidants) shredded lettuce with and light olive oil dressing. YUM!
Healthier Snack Ideas for Kids
When they come home each afternoon have healthier snacks waiting so that they don’t grab for potato chips or cookies.
- Celery and/or carrots with dip: Popular dips among kids may include ranch, hummus, creamy Italian dressing, bean dip, cream cheese, and other soft cheeses. Try other raw vegetables too, like cucumbers, zucchini and bell pepper slices.
- Apple slices and dip: Use an apple slicer or cut into slices with a knife and sprinkle with a little lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. Serve with peanut butter or yogurt
- Trail mix: Make your own by mixing together peanuts, walnuts, raisins, bits of dark chocolate, and dried fruits. Keep the high sugar sweets to a minimum.