Brain Food for Kids: Healthy Options to Help Them Do Their Best in School

Brain Food for Kids: Healthy Options to Help Them Do Their Best in School

Do you ever think about how dependent your school-aged children are on you as parents? They rely on you for food, shelter, clothing, transportation, answers to endless questions…The list goes on and on. Within that list is brain development. Maybe not in the same sense as clothing and shelter. But indirectly, the formation of your child’s brain is dependent on you. Not just through teaching and observation of behavior, but also on the fuel provided through nutrition.

Food affects our minds in incredible ways. It can help us concentrate or be less focused; it can give us energy or make us tired. Successful lunchtime nutrition can begin with planning. Kids need brain food to help them do their best in school.

Sometimes as a parent it feels like your plate is already full (not just your food plate). Keep reading to find out some simple examples of brain food and how you can incorporate it into your child’s life.

What is Brain Food?

It’s basically self-explanatory- food for your brain. Growing children need an adequate amount of nutrients so that their immune systems are healthy, they have strong bones, and their minds are healthy.

Most processed foods that are, let’s admit, super easy to make and pretty cheap, and are full of refined sugars without much nutrient value. Too much sugar in a meal or snack can lead to a quick spike in your child’s blood sugar that stimulates excess insulin-and then a blood sugar crash. Your child suddenly has no energy–not what he needs to feel in the middle of the school day.

Educate Your Child

A great way to get your child on board in food changes is to teach them about what foods are harmful and why, and what foods are beneficial and why. Teach them which processed foods cause the blood sugar spikes and crashes leaving them feeling sluggish. Explain to them how a balanced diet will help them to concentrate and learn better at school.

There are endless recipes and food ideas that help with concentration and mental energy. As you explore them, explore them with your child. You can begin your exploration now, by looking through some food ideas below.

Breakfast for the Brain


Oatmeal: This breakfast can be made versatile with different kinds of milk, fruits, or nuts and seeds. What’s terrific about oatmeal in comparison to sugary cereal is that it has more fiber and less processed carbohydrates, slowing uptake and avoiding insulin surges. This helps with concentration and also can lower cholesterol.

Eggs: Eggs can also be served in a variety of different ways, depending on how your child likes them–scrambled, fried, on toast, in a burrito, made into French toast, etc. Eggs contain protein and lipids (fats) that help decrease cravings and appetite, and also help with concentration and energy. Win, win, win.

Snacks for the Brain

berriesBerries: Berries like strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries all contain antioxidants that help with metabolism. When they are in season, and they are a great option for a fresh local snack. Otherwise, they can be frozen and enjoyed throughout the year. They can also be a source of quick energy containing a fair amount of simple sugars while still providing healthy nutrients.

Bananas and Nut Butter: This is an easy snack to pack for your kid before school. Slice up some bananas and put some peanut butter or almond butter in a container. They’ll enjoy putting the nut butter between the two banana slices before they devour it. This snack contains protein, carbohydrates, and fats that are necessary for the brain.

Lunches for the Brain

tuna sandwich

Tuna: The part of your child’s brain that involves memory and attention span can be aided by Omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids can be found in deep water ocean fish–including tuna, which is paired well with whole wheat bread and pickles. It’s tasty, fun, and will help your child stay focused during the school day.

Pizza: While processed foods such as frozen pizzas may contain a variety of preservatives and also suffer some degradation in the preservation process, freshly prepared pizza can be a balanced source of dietary requirements including lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and fatty acids to necessary for brain development and metabolism. By preparing the pizza in the home the night before, he can be enjoyed the next day at lunch and help maintain focus and concentration.

Dinners for the Brain

baked chicken nuggets

Chicken Nuggets: The chicken nuggets that you might buy at a fast food restaurant or from the frozen food section will contain a fair amount of saturated fats and processed carbohydrates. Try making your own chicken nuggets with good quality chicken breast, buttermilk, and whole grain breadcrumbs. You can find a recipe here. You can even get your children involved in the preparation to make them more excited about understanding their food and how it affects their health.

Beans: Beans come in many varieties and even if you have a picky eater, they most likely will like at least one of them. Some common popular varieties include black, garbanzo, or pinto. Beans provide and sustain energy and help control blood sugar levels due to a balanced composition of protein, fiber and complex carbohydrate. They can be incorporated in a variety of different regional and ethnic favorites: burritos, stews, chilis, enchiladas.

Diet high in saturated fats and refined sugars tend to be readily absorbed and contribute to decreased concentration, decreased energy, and obesity. By incorporating a variety of foods that utilize proteins, complex carbohydrates, and unsaturated fatty acids, you can improve overall health and well-being including scholastic performance, concentration, and energy.

Changing the diet of your child can be intimidating, but we hope that with these suggestions for new foods, you are excited to try some new recipes with your child. We care deeply about your child’s health and development, so if you have any questions about anything we’ve written, feel free to contact us.

8 Tips for Keeping Kids Healthy in School

8 Tips for Keeping Kids Healthy in School

Parents around the country are gleeful as they watch their kiddos hop on the school bus or walk through the school doors. Most are ready to get back to a schedule that includes the chance to have enough time to miss their children. No shame in that. So, the big question now is, how do you keep your kids healthy in school?

Every parent knows that the start of the school year also signals the beginning of cold and flu season, especially anywhere kids congregate. The incredible ability for children to share every germ possible, quickly, is almost a superpower.

How do you slow down the spread? How can you help your child remain healthy during the school year, so he doesn’t miss school? Let’s look at some tips and information.

Good Attendance Is Critical

Research is becoming more and more clear about the essential nature of consistent school attendance. Students who miss an average of two or more days of school per month are less likely to graduate high school.

In addition, absenteeism specifically in September is a significant indicator of how much school a child will miss through the remainder of the year. Students who miss 2-4 days of school in September go on to lose an average of 25 days for the year. Clearly, helping your child to start the year with healthy habits will pay off in the long run. So, how do you help your children avoid the gunk, so they don’t have to stay home from school?

8 Ways to Help Keep Kids Healthy in School

When it comes to trying to avoid absenteeism by helping your students maintain good health, prevention is key. Following these tips and habits will go a long way in keeping your children able to go to school.

1. Establish Good Sleep Habits

Quality, consistent sleep is one of the most important needs your child has. Disrupted or inadequate sleep often leads to forgetfulness, irritability, and inattentiveness. Poor sleep also suppresses the immune system, making your child much more likely to catch any bugs going around. Helping your child to develop and maintain good sleep patterns is one of the best things you can do to set him up for school-year health and success.

2. Establish Healthy Eating Habits

Making sure your child has breakfast each day, even if it is a small amount, will help keep his immune system functioning well. Help your child pack lunches with a variety of healthy items. School lunchtimes are often quite short, so be sure the food in your child’s lunch is nutritionally powerful. Nuts, beans, eggs, whole grains, and fresh fruits and veggies will keep your child’s body fueled so that it can do its job of fighting off germs.

3. Emphasize Great Hand-Washing Habits

It may be hard to believe it’s only been about 150 years since we learned that hand hygiene halts the spread of disease, but it really is that recent. Fortunately, it is not a complicated process, but it does require consistency. Teach your child to wash after using the restroom, after blowing his nose, and both before and after eating.

4. Teach Your Child How to Cover Coughs and Sneezes Correctly

Many adults still fall into old habits of using their hands to cover their mouths when yawning, coughing, or sneezing. But the proper way to cover up is by using the elbow. This method drastically cuts down on the spread of germs since it is unlikely your child is picking up toys, pencils, or food with his elbow. This one habit is a tremendous help in keeping kids healthy in school.

5. Remind Your Child Not to Share Food and Water Bottles With Friends

This is pretty much a surefire way to spread any illnesses that are lurking. It can be a hard habit for little ones to remember when so much of school time is spent teaching them how to share, but keep reminding them that food and drinks can be shared with family, but not with friends at school. And on the topic of sharing, encourage your children not to share combs, brushes, and hair ties to avoid spreading head lice. It’s every parent’s worst school year nightmare.

6. Be Sure Your Child is Getting Plenty of Exercise and Fresh Air

As more and more schools shorten their recess and PE times, it is critical that your child has time each day to play outside. Fresh air gives your child’s body the oxygen it needs to fight off viruses and bacteria, and it boosts the body’s white blood cells for a healthier immune system.

7. Be Aware of Signs of Anxiety or Depression in Your Child

School can be a stressful place for children. Long days with little opportunity for movement can take a toll on a child’s mental health. Add in academic difficulties, bullying, or worries about world problems, and your child could feel overwhelmed quickly. Watch for indications that your child is struggling with anxiety. Things like irritability, inability to sleep, and a lack of appetite may warrant a talk with the school counselor or your child’s pediatrician.

8. Don’t Over-Sanitize

This may sound counterintuitive, but research is becoming more and more clear that children need to spend some time getting dirty. Our gut needs a variety of microbes to help keep us healthy, and playing in the dirt helps us get those microbes. Avoid the urge to buy antibacterial and antimicrobial everything. Over-sanitizing your child’s world likely will have the opposite effect from what you anticipate and could stop him from staying healthy during the school year.

In spite of your best efforts, it is still likely that your child will catch something during the school year. Your child’s school should have an illness policy to help determine if your student needs to stay home. Be sure to follow this policy to avoid further spreading illness at the school.

At Camas Swale Medical Clinic, we look forward to partnering with you and your family as you work toward maintaining good health through the school year and beyond. Reach out today to make an appointment with Dr. Armitage.