As a father of three growing boys I’m always involved in whatever I can do to make sure they have the best foundation when it comes to learning and development, especially with school right around the corner! With that said, I’m still surprised that most parents forget that what you feed your children literally determines not only their health, but their success in school. The same foods that create poor health also create poor cognitive function.
I went online and did a quick search of what the latest government and nutritional “authorities” are recommending for children to eat these days and I was shocked and disappointed. I figured the information from my own professional training in fitness and nutrition was mainstream now, but I was dead wrong. So, let’s see if I can clear up some of the misinformation out there and provide clear-cut nutritional recommendations that we parents can use to give our kids the best chance to learn and grow!
- Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning – This helps rehydrate and detox the body after sleeping and primes your digestion for breakfast.
- Eat breakfast! – Skipping breakfast does work for some, but not for most. Our blood-sugar levels are low after sleeping and with no food in their bellies they risk concentration and memory issues until they get it back up with some food.
- Sit down at the table – Eating on the run, in the car or school bus, or skipping breakfast all together is a recipe for disaster. The sympathetic nervous system aka “fight or flight” mechanism will be active and hinder proper digestion and assimilation of nutrients. We need to be relaxed and focused on our food so our para-sympathetic nervous system aka “rest and digest” can do its job.
- Healthy Fats – Kids especially need lots of healthy fats. The fats will keep them feeling fuller throughout the day and provide exactly what they need for proper neuron and hormone development. Great examples of healthy fats are free-range egg yolks, free-range meats, butter, coconut oil, avocados, sprouted nuts, and sprouted nut butters. Make sure they’re organic too!
- Healthy Proteins – Just like health fats, our kids need good sources of protein to help them feel fuller throughout the day and provide the building blocks for their growing bodies. Examples of healthy proteins are free-range eggs and meats, sprouted nuts/seeds. Keep these as much organic as possible too.
- Healthy Carbs – We all need carbs for our basic energy needs and if kids are anything, they are energetic! You want to be wise on your choices here because processed carbs or too many carbs almost always lead to obesity, diabetes, and a whole host of cognitive and behavioral issues that we often see in children, especially boys. Healthy carbs can be found in organic fruits and vegetables, but the occasional whole grain such as sprouted, organic breads, rice, oatmeal, etc. are great too. Make sure to pre-soak your grains before you cook them and add some healthy fat to maximize nutrient absorption.
- Drink More Water – Put a bpa-free or stainless-steel water bottle in their backpacks and have them drink a cup or two around 10am. This will keep them hydrated, alert, and prime their digestion for lunch time.
- Bring Your Lunch – It’s too bad that we can’t count on our schools to feed our kids a nutritious lunch, so the only option is to make your own. Not only can you better control what your kid eats, but if they make it themselves they’re more likely to eat it and start to develop personal responsibility for their health!
- Lunch Ideas – If you’re kids are young, then finger foods are usually your best option. Fresh cut carrots and celery, a piece of fruit, some sliced meats and cheese are great options. Remember to cold-pack the meats if they’re going to sit for more than two hours.
The older our children get they’ll be able to bring left-overs from the previous night’s dinner and throw in a bigger variety of foods.
For dessert or snack options you can always make grain-free baked goods from organic, gluten free ingredients such as the chocolate chip cookies we make at our house, some organic dark chocolate, or any of my hand-made Nate’s Raw Harvest sprouted, organic snacks. The WOW! Bites are especially popular!
I know it can be hard to always come up with foods that keep your child interested and satisfied, but with time our children will develop a taste for healthier food, especially if we start early and practice what we preach at home. It’s well worth the investment to help our kids develop healthy eating practices and give them the foundation for a long, successful life.