ef1Well, the kids are finally off to school.  Here in the Northeast, kids start school a couple weeks later than other states.

Every year I reiterate the same “first day of school speech,” which includes the usual things such as “listening in school, the importance of good grades, and organizational skills.” But this year I decided to add something new…learning to eat healthy foods and snacks that will help keep your energy flowing throughout the day.

The more I read about nutrition and health, the more I realize how important eating breakfast is, especially for school-age kids.  So many kids skip breakfast because they don’t have enough time to sit down and eat before catching the bus to school.  Most kids will grab the high sugar foods before running out the door, which only sets the kids up for an energy crash mid-morning.

Here are some  foods that should help keep your child’s energy level running smoothly and improve their concentration:

  1. Oatmeal digests slowly, which gives kids a smooth flow of protein and energy.  This whole grain is high in fiber.  Add raisins, walnuts, dried fruit, or brown sugar for more taste.  If you are serving the oatmeal packets, do not add any sugar, there is enough in there already!
  2. Frozen or fresh, blueberries and strawberries are great energy foods that can be eaten right from a snack bag or blended in a smoothie.  For those kids that don’t mind eating greens, spinach is just as high in antioxidants as both blueberries and strawberries.
  3. The choline in eggs plays a very important role in forming memory stem cells in our brain.  If your child does not eggs, they can get a similar choline-rich diet by snacking on nuts.
  4. Fruit…melons, apples, pears, oranges, plums…are healthy foods that help kids stay “regular” and avoid constipation, which can be a distraction in school.  Make a fruit cup containing a few of their favorite fruits and serve with a toothpick for an easier “on-the-go” breakfast.
  5. Whole Wheat Bread, contains the B vitamin, folate, which helps manufacture memory cells in the brain.  Serve a couple pieces of whole wheat french toast topped with your child’s favorite fruit for breakfast.  For lunch, use whole wheat bread for sandwiches.
  6. Low-Fat Milk contains calcium, which affects how our bodies regulate energy.  Add some strawberry or chocolate syrup to your glass.  Chocolate milk has very little caffeine and contains just about the same amount of sugar as fruit juices.
  7. Believe it or not, lean beef is high in zinc and is one of the best absorbed sources of iron we can get.  Eating just a small size (about one ounce) of beef each day can improve your bodies ability to absorb iron from other sources.
  8. Let’s not forget good, ole cereal.  Fortified with whole grains, rich in folate, complex carbohydrates, proteins, and vitamin B12, cereal can be eaten for breakfast or as a snack.  Add raisins or peanuts for an extra added boost.
  9. Not drinking enough water can cause false hunger in kids, which may lead to poor food choices.  Have your child drink water at every meal, if possible, especially if your child is active.  Not drinking enough water can also lead to dehydration, which can make any child irritable and lethargic.

What are your child’s favorite energy boosting foods?  Share them with us!