all know about the kinds of foods we shouldn't be feeding our children because
they're bad for them: junk food, sweet snacks, greasy fast-food fare. But what
are the foods that we should be feeding our children, to help them do their best
A child's brain isn't very big, but it sucks up 20%
of the body's carbohydrate supply every day. It prefers a nice, steady supply
of glucose, the fuel source that comes from carbs. Make sure your child gets a
good supply of carbohydrates every day to keep the brain operating at a steady
pace and avoid the distractions of hunger pangs. But even though carbohydrates
mean sugars, that doesn't mean sugary junk food or sweet cereals. Instead, go
for the long-lasting, complex carbs in high-fiber breads and cereals like
oatmeal and bran; fruits like apples, cherries, oranges and grapes; spaghetti;
rice; soybeans, kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils; and lots of milk and
Also make sure your child has a good
supply of protein - turkey, chicken, eggs and beans - preferably at breakfast,
too, to stabilize blood sugar. Ideas: breakfast burrito, eggs on whole-wheat
English muffin, or a peanut butter and banana waffle.
Building brains is the berries!
Blueberries and many other berries supply the chemicals that help make
connections between brain cells, increasing learning power.
If your child hates broccoli, point out
that it is high in folic acid, a vitamin that helps build memory.
Avoid sugary in-between meal snacks
because the sugar jets right into the bloodstream and can make learning and
behavior both worse. Your child may experience sugar "highs" followed by the
sugar "blues." If you want to serve a high-sugar food, serve it with other
foods to slow down that sugar high.
low-calorie, high-protein breakfast will tend to keep your child more alert in
the morning than a high-calorie, high-fat breakfast, which will tend to make
him feel more sluggish.
foods help the brain make its neurotransmitters, the messengers that help the brain
function. So protein really is "brain food."
and relaxing nutritional powers come from bean burritos, nuts and seeds (e.g.,
almonds, filberts, sunflower and sesame seeds), and legumes.
Foods with the omega 3 fatty acid, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), are
literally brain-builders, because DHA is a structural component of brain
tissue. In Asia, students frequently supplement their food with DHA pills and
take them before tests. Feed tuna, salmon, fish oil and flax oil. Lunch idea:
chunk light tuna with whole-wheat pasta.
topped with blueberries may be the best breakfast for improving a child's
learning and memory skills.
low-fat or skim milk.
fruit for dessert or snacks.
good snack ideas: whole-wheat crackers, apple slices "frosted" with peanut
butter; baby carrots and celery sticks; string cheese; raw almonds or walnuts;
low-fat popcorn, and frozen grapes.
Homework: Check out the nutrition advice for parents of