Getting your child to eat three square meals a day is great, but getting them to eat the right kinds of foods is even better! Here are some specific foods parents or schools can offer their children which have a direct correlation to academic performance and behavior:
1) Eggs: Eggs have ingredients like protein, choline, zinc, and other elements which help kids concentrate. Scrambled eggs are best and easier to serve, especially at school. You can serve them with whole wheat toast for an added bit of carbohydrate without sugar.
2) Yogurt (especially Greek yogurt): This contains some natural fats which offers more protein than regular yogurt and can keep brain cell membranes flexible. This helps them to send and receive information learned in the classroom and increases overall performance.
3) Spinach: Though hard to serve for breakfast, this is a natural source of sulforaphane, which has natural detoxifying abilities. It can be served in omelets or you can make chips out of kale or other greens, dipped in olive oil.
4) Peanut Butter: Peanut butter and toast is considered one of the best brain foods to eat before a test. It helps kids to maintain high levels of brain function, due to the protein and other effects of the ingredients of peanut butter.
5) Fish: Fish is known brain food and increases alertness in many studies about its benefits. It can be served in a variety of ways. It has often been called “the ultimate brain food" because of the fact that it is made up of ingredients, such as omega-3 fats making them vital for healthy brain function. Studies also have shown that eating fish while pregnant increases verbal and social skills among babies born to these mothers by the age of eight, compared to mothers of children who never ate fish. Some more recent studies even suggest a decrease in ADHD and Dyslexia among children whose mothers ate fish.
6) Water: The most basic and essential element of life may also be responsible for general brain function. Water promotes elasticity of brain function and it is believed that children who drink water before a test perform better than children who do not. Some schools believe this so firmly now that they allow kids to drink water at their desks from plastic bottles on a regular basis.
There are other “brain foods" that are being researched as to the benefits that can be derived from them. Most nutritionists agree that fruit, vegetables and whole grains are important to consume on a daily basis in order to ensure you are getting proper nutrients. Try serving your child a breakfast of eggs with sauteed spinach and fish, and then having them bring a bottle of water and yogurt to school with them as a snack. Not enough time to prepare eggs in the morning? Whole wheat toast with peanut butter is a good alternative.
The most important thing to remember is to encourage your child to eat a healthy breakfast before school each day, and teach them to make healthy choices through the day. If they are fussy eaters, or are not hungry in the morning, start with something simple like fresh fruit. Even something small can help them increase their chances of success on important standardized tests, and can also improve their behavior and social skills over time.