It's elementary! Kids + Good Food = Good Grades.


It's elementary! Kids + Good Food = Good Grades.

When you fuel your child with healthy meals and fresh produce, you are priming their minds and bodies for a powerful day of learning. Poor nutrition can have a seriously detrimental effect on a child's cognitive development and ability to learn as well as leaving them vulnerable to illness or infection, which can interrupt their academic progress and make it difficult to catch up again.

Every parent can improve their child's ability to tackle their school day when they take the time to consider food choices and make small changes to snacks and meals. Here are 5 essential Dos and Don'ts:

1. Don't skip breakfast! Studies indicate children who participated in a school breakfast program and regularly ate breakfast had better standardized test scores. So as rushed as your family may be in the morning, don't be tempted to skip it.

2. Do check the labels! You'd be amazed how much sugar is actually in each serving of most breakfast cereals! Find foods with more fiber and complex carbs (like whole-grain breads) and protein (try eggs) to keep kids feeling full longer in the morning.

3. Do drink the water! Kids with short recesses don't usually stop for water breaks and that juice box at lunchtime isn't enough to hydrate them all day. Some schools believe that mild dehydration is a common source of children's flagging attention and ask that students have a non-spill bottle of water available at their desks throughout the day to help keep students focused.

4. Don't ask, just offer! Don't wait for your child to come home from school hungry and dive into a bag of potato chips. Instead, present them with a favorite fruit or sliced raw veggies without saying a word. Chances are they'll be so busy watching Spongebob Squarepants they'll start munching without an argument.

5. Do try everything! Get your child into an adventurous mood by making it a house rule to "Try Everything." Small servings of a food they think they don't like are easier to get down if they know they can stop after they've tasted it. Once they've taken the first bite, they might even eat the rest.

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1) The Link Between Nutrition and Cognitive Development in Children, Tufts University School of Nutrition, Center on Hunger, Poverty and Nutrition Policy Statement, 1998

2) Breakfast and Cognition: An Integrative Summary, Pollitt, Ernesto; Matthews, Rebecca, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 67 (suppl), 1998