Once a year, we take our kids shopping for back to school supplies and clothes so that they have everything they need to succeed in the classroom. But most of us are forgetting the single most important thing our kids need to do well in school: proper nutrition.
School can cause stress in many children who experience anxiety or may have a hard time being away from home. The best way to help your child succeed in school is to enforce healthy habits. Read on for more information on supporting your child academically through food and nutrition!
Importance of a Healthy Diet to Foster Growing Minds and Bodies
Cutting the junk food out of your child’s diet is not just good for their bodies; it might be the reason they are not succeeding in school. According to a 2015 study, eating too much junk food can actually shrink the brain.(1) The study found that Australians who ate an unhealthy diet had smaller hippocampi, or the part of the bran that is responsible for learning. Australians who ate a healthy diet were found to have larger hippocampi, suggesting the possibility for more success academically.
If your child suffers from an attention deficit disorder and you are considering putting them on medication, you may want to think again. According to a 2011 study published in The Lancet Journal, diet may be a better treatment option for ADHD than drugs.(2) The study suggests that most children with ADHD are misdiagnosed. According to the author of the study, approximately 64 percent of children with ADHD are actually experiencing a food allergy or sensitivity. The author suggests that restricting certain foods over a time period of 5 weeks will greatly reduce behavioral and learning problems.
Cutting junk food is a good place to start if you’re looking to support your child academically. But you will also want to replace the junk foods with healthier foods that support learning and brain development. In perhaps the first study of its kind, a 2009 study found that children who suffer from attention deficit disorders achieved and maintained control of their symptoms when they supplemented with an omega 3 fatty acid supplement. (3)
Another study found a direct correlation between omega 3 fatty acid blood levels and how well a child learned. (4) According to the study, “Higher levels of Omega 3 fatty acids in the blood, and DHA in particular, were associated with better reading and memory, as well as with fewer behavior problems as rated by parents and teachers.”
Foods to Include (And Avoid) in Your Child’s Diet For Maximum School Success
Parents know it’s hard to get kids to eat healthy. Some days it’s hard to get them to eat at all. But even picky eaters tend to realize they don’t feel well after eating certain foods. Glutinous foods and foods that are high in processed sugars tend to leave kids with brain fog that makes it hard to concentrate or even stay awake in school.
Start with breakfast for better behavior and less hyperactivity throughout the day. Set aside at least 15 minutes each morning for your kids to eat breakfast before they head off to school even if it means an earlier wake up time. They might fight you at first but stick to your guns and it will become routine soon enough. A balanced breakfast for kids might include an omelette with lots of vegetables and a side of fresh fruit.
Pack them a healthy lunch that allows for more energy throughout the afternoon when it’s easy to feel sluggish. This might include a lettuce wrap made with a slice of antibiotic free turkey with grapes, a handful of walnuts and a small container of hummus with celery or carrot sticks.
Avoid the following foods:
- Soda and fruit juices
- Any foods with artificial coloring (check labels!) such as canned or frozen foods
- Cakes and sweets
- Energy drinks
- Fruit snacks
- Packaged granola bars or fruit cups
Focus on the following foods instead:
- Organic gluten free oats and breads
- Fresh fruit such as berries, bananas, apples, melons and kiwi
- Lean meats such as organic chicken and turkey
- Vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, spinach, carrots, celery, etc.
- Wild fish
- Nuts and nut milk
Supplementing For An Added Boost of Concentration Power
In addition to eliminating foods that may be holding your child back in the classroom, consider supplementing with an omega 3 fatty acid as a drug-free option for hyperactive children or to encourage better learning habits. This is important for all growing children as every single child’s brain needs the DHA found in fish oil to grow correctly.
Omega 3 fish oil is perfect as your child’s first supplement. Opt for a fish oil that is in small capsule form and is easy to swallow. Avoid liquid fish oils as they easily go rancid due to exposure to oxygen every time you open the bottle. Be sure that the product contains at least 300 mg of DHA per serving.
Give your child the best year he or she can by equipping them with the right nutrients they need to concentrate and learn all day long.
In good health.