by Dr. Deanna Carlisle, Carlisle Chiropractic Center
As a new school year approaches, I want to remind parents of the important role nutrition plays in assuring kids a successful school year. Nutrition and learning go hand in hand. Kids who are nutritionally fit are more likely to have the energy, stamina and self-esteem that enhance their ability to learn. Running out the door with thoughts of seeing old classmates, joining new clubs, participating in school sports and (hopefully!) getting good grades, kids will not be paying much attention to the proper nutrition needed to accomplish all of this.
We have often heard it said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet 35-40 percent of all Americans skip breakfast. The statistics for children are just as alarming, as many as 48 percent of girls and 32 percent of boys do not eat breakfast every day. Start with a healthy breakfast. For children and teens a morning meal is especially important to prepare them to meet the challenges of learning. Many studies have shown that those who eat a morning meal tend to perform better in school, score higher on tests, have higher school attendance, less tardiness, better concentration and muscle coordination..and kids who eat breakfast have fewer hunger induced stomachaches and are less likely to be overweight.
As for lunch, meals served at school contribute significantly to kids overall nutrient and energy needs. Do you know what they are eating? School meals are
usually regulated through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Through USDA guidance many schools are improving the nutritional quality of lunch and designing the meals to supply about one-third of a child’s nutrition needs.
Parents can play a role in helping a child choose healthful meals in several ways. Keep the school lunch menu in your kitchen, go over it with your child, and talk with your child about making choices in the cafeteria line. Get involved and work with school staff to form a parent advisory committee for the school food service program.
If your child prefers to brown bag it to school, let your child help plan and prepare school lunches. When they’re involved, chances are they will resist trading their carrots for cookies. Pack meals that are easy to prepare and fun to eat as well as nutritious. A few examples are sandwiches, raw veggies, crackers, string cheese, whole fruit and yogurt or pudding.
Finally, for after-school snacks choose foods that supply needed nutrients that can be missed in meal choices. Stock up with ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables, animal crackers, popcorn and cereal. Your child will appreciate the availability of quick healthy snacks.
Proper nutrition is crucial for social, emotional and psychological development. Teaching children how to eat healthy will enable them to establish a foundation of good nutrition and healthful lifestyle habits that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.