Brain-Food for Back to School!

Help your scholar (little or big!) have the best year possible no matter their grade, avoid or decrease the number of sick days, support their emotional health when learning life lessons and optimize their healthy overall development with nutrient conscious foods choices!

The Research (in a nutshell)

Nutritional deficiencies, hypoglycemia, food allergies, high sugar consumption, caffeine, food additives, artificial ingredients, and low protein intake have all been implicated in childhood behavioural problems, most commonly characteristics associated with ADHD.

Let’s start with Breakfast

It’s been proven that children who eat breakfast perform better in school.

Most children eat breakfasts that are high in sugar and loaded with simple carbohydrates. These types of food provide energy quickly, experienced as a burst of energy, but also results in a “blood-sugar crash” or an extreme low in energy. Children and adults alike will often feel fatigued, irritable, unable to focus, dizzy, jittery or occasionally nauseated in this energy crash. Having said this, it would not come as a surprise if the child who eats a bagel for breakfast in the morning displays anger outburst, an inability to focus or forgetfulness by mid morning.

TIP: Make breakfast protein-rich and carbohydrate-poor
GOAL: Balance blood sugar levels through their school day

Try these quick protein rich breakfast ideas:

  • Homemade nut granola with milk and a piece of fruit
  • Yogurt / nut butter (if peanut, 100% peanuts with no added sugar) and an apple
  • Breakfast burrito: scrambled egg, black beans and salsa wrapped in a whole grain tortilla
  • Breakfast pizza: toasted English muffin spread with thin layer of marinara sauce, topped with a scrambled egg, light sprinkle of cheese and toasted
  • 1/2 toasted English muffin with a hard boiled egg (salt and pepper to season) and a bowl of berries
  • Scrambled eggs, a slice of cheese on a toasted whole grain toast
  • Fruit smoothie with small amount of protein powder (recipes upon request) and a toasted whole grain toast and avocado pesto mash spread

Extra Tip: Just as carbohydrates can spike your child’s blood sugar, you can just imagine what a dessert would do! Try to avoid all dessert during the school day and try to replace sweets with healthy nutrient dense alternatives.

Try these nutrient dense dessert ideas:

  • Whole grain toast with almond or peanut butter and fruit jam / ¼-1/2 banana sliced
  • Almond or peanut butter spread on apple slices
  • Nut granola with yogurt and drizzled honey
  • Homemade granola bars
  • Nut Energy no-bake balls

EXTRA TIP: If wanting a typical dessert, such as a cake or a pie – Aim to teach the importance of portion size to your children as well as baking desserts gluten free using nutrient dense flours such as almond flour, coconut flour, garbanzo bean flour, amongst others.

Lunchtime Nutrients
Getting your child involved in their lunch preparation is key! They will more likely eat what they take to school if they have a part in the decision making process. Studies have shown that children who help pick and prepare their meals are more likely to eat them.

Try these quick, easy and healthy lunch alternatives:

  • Brown rice bowls topped with meat and veggies
  • Whole grain / rice pasta salad with diced chicken
  • Hummus with veggies & whole grain crackers with almond butter
  • Burritos made with brown rice and black beans in a whole grain tortilla with tomato salsa and grilled veggies. Can be leftovers from a dinner a couple days before and can be heated or eaten cold.
  • Almond crusted chicken fingers (seems fancy, but super simple!)

KEY TO SUCCESS= Take a few hours on the weekend to shop, plan and prepare for next week’s meals.

Dr. McLaird is on Pinterest and Facebook!