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Making the Grade With Brain-Healthy Foods

Published: Feb 06, 2007 - 03:38 AM

Parents can help their child make the grade by coupling brain healthy supplements, a good multi-vitamin and brain-smart foods. Properly nourishing the brain will ultimately set the child up for success in the classroom by improving focus and concentration, managing behavioral problems and keeping them healthy.

The daily diet starting with a solid breakfast is highly important to the school success equation. A Harvard University study and a Massachusetts General Hospital study both showed that children who regularly ate breakfast perform better on standardized test scores, have better behavior, and are less hyperactive than children who skip breakfast.

Sugary breakfast cereals or white-flour pancakes with syrup will leave your child hungry and tired half way through the morning. A solid protein-based breakfast is always a better alternative to highly refined carbohydrates. Eggs, whole grain toast and a piece of fruit is one example of a healthy start to the day that will keep your child satisfied until lunch time. The protein in the egg and lower-starch whole grain bread and fruit will support the physical needs while also supporting brain function.

Now on to lunch... The typical school lunch of pizza, french fries and canned fruits and vegetables are poor quality food choices. However, the parent-packed "cold lunches" can also fail the grade. According to one study, only 25 percent of parent-packed cold lunches meet minimum dietary standards. Additionally, most parent-packed lunches are filled with saturated fats, sugar and salt. Here are a number of healthy lunch tips to keep your child's mind sharp and body fueled throughout the school day.

- Use whole wheat bread or multi-grain bread instead of white bread.
- Bypass processed lunch meats. Instead, use meat from the pervious night's dinner. For instance, chop up leftover chicken to make a chicken salad sandwich.
- Add diced fruits or vegetables with a small container of healthy dipping sauces like low-fat yogurt, sour cream or hummus.
- Yogurt with active live bacterial cultures (probiotics) provides a good source of protein and calcium.
- Instead of snack cakes or other sugary desserts, pack canned fruit packed in water instead of sugar or dried fruit.
- Forget the fruit drinks, fruit punch and soft drinks and pack water and milk instead.

Pick from the following mix and match food list for a healthy lunch. Ideally you will choose one fruit, one vegetable, one snack, a sandwich or non-sandwich food and a beverage.

Vegetables: Cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, carrot sticks, celery sticks, green salad.
Fruits: Apples, bananas, blueberries, cherries, grapes, nectarines, orange sections, peaches, pears, pineapple, strawberries.

Dips for fruits, vegetables, sandwiches and crackers: Almond or apple butter, apple butter, mashed banana, low-fat cream cheese or brie cheese, honey, hummus, fruit jam, peanut butter.

Snacks: Nuts, dried cranberries, cheese slices or sticks, cottage cheese with fruit, hard-boiled egg, dried fruit, granola, popcorn, pretzels, trail mix, wheat crackers, vanilla yogurt with fruit.

Beverages: Bottled water, skim or 1% milk. If you do choose to pack a juice box on occasion, make sure the juice is 100 percent fruit juice.

Sandwich Fillings: Chicken, chicken salad, egg salad, organic peanut butter and all-fruit jelly, roast beef, chunk light tuna fish, tuna salad, turkey, turkey salad.

Sandwich Add-ons: Sliced apples, shredded carrots, cheese, sliced cucumber, lettuce, spinach leaves, sprouts.

You have healthy breakfast and lunch ideas but let's face it, kids can be picky. If you have a finicky eater, supplements to provide the nutrients not received in the daily diet are an absolute must. There are a number of quality Attention Deficit supplements available that will support the brain while also reducing the symptoms of ADD and ADHD. When looking for a quality ADD supplement, look for one that provides a full complex of amino acids and fatty acids.

Numerous studies show that ADHD children have lower levels of essential fatty acids. Studies also show that lower levels of essential fatty acids can result in problems with learning, behavior, temper, sleep, and immune function.

Amino acids quite literally feed the brain. Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, promote the production of various neurotransmitters and enzymes needed for communication between brain cells and a smooth transition from thought to disciplined action.

 

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