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Power Foods Kids will Actually Eat to Improve Attention and Memory in the Classroom
This article provides helpful information about power foods to improve a child’s memory and attention in school. Affiliate links are included for your convenience. Integrated Learning Strategies (ILS) is a learning and academic center. As a reminder, ILS is not a health care provider and none of our materials or services provide a diagnosis or treatment of a specific condition or learning challenge you may see in your child or student. If you seek a diagnosis or treatment for your child or student, please contact a trained professional who can provide an evaluation of the child.
There is a never ending nutritional and fitness hype that creates new article headlines to catch the next reader’s eye. It can be tiring. I think we all know that a healthy diet that includes foods from a variety of natural sources and a balanced look at nutrients is the best bet. Kids need food that feeds not only their growing bodies and muscles to help them move, but foods that help with brain power. Children are in school for roughly one third of every day. School is their job. Nutritionally, they need foods not only for physical energy but for cognition, focus and memory. Most foods support this endeavor; however, there are a few foods on the elite team of nutritional choices.
But let’s be real, a plate of sautéed kale and grilled salmon is not always going to happen (if ever) for a child’s lunch box. An elaborate breakfast would be nice, but not realistic on busy school mornings, so how do we get those brain power foods in our kids’ bodies?
Elite Brain Foods
Here are five elite foods that are proven to provide those needed brain energy boosts that are achievable even on the busiest days. In addition, all children, especially those with attention and focus issues should be taking daily vitamin supplements with plenty of Omega 3s, calcium, magnesium and zinc. Studies show deficiencies with these vitamins and minerals can prevent a child from learning and can cause children to fidget in class.
Start out right with breakfast. We’ve heard it countless times, but it’s worth mentioning again. Don’t let your child skip breakfast. Numerous studies have confirmed the powerful effects of a healthy breakfast on a child’s school day. Breakfast is critical for school-aged children, and at least 37 percent of kids in this country blow off this important meal. (Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor University) There are many good food choices for the student, and oatmeal may be one of the best options for a “brain power” breakfast. Quaker Oats sponsored a study where researchers looked at the effects of educational performance of school-aged kids eating different items for breakfast. Tufts University completed the studies and looked at kids who ate oatmeal versus students who ate cold cereal or had no breakfast at all. The results concluded that kids who ate oatmeal increased their spatial memory skills by 46 percent compared to those children that ate cereal every morning. It also found that nearly half of the children who ate cereal increased their skills compared to those who did not eat breakfast. The results were similar when the researchers looked at performance on concentration and attention tests.
Oatmeal has so many benefits for the developing brain of a young learner. Oatmeal is a whole grain that is rich in fiber. It not only digests slowly, giving the child a steady stream of energy, but it provides a good protein source as well.
Berries and Cherries
Here is a quick solution to an afterschool snack and recess energy boost. Not only do berries, cherries and even grapes reduce toxin levels in a child’s bloodstream, but they contain antioxidants and phytonutrients that have been shown to improve blood flow to the brain. This in turn increases neural activity. Another positive function of these delicious fruits, especially the dark colored berries such as blackberries and blueberries, is that they contain anthocyanins that may improve memory function. A child can benefit from eating these yummy fruits in a variety of ways including: fresh, frozen or even dried.
All kinds, unless your child has allergies. Discover which nut your child likes best. A particular favorite at my house is cashews and almonds and we eat almond butter on everything. Packing snack containers of nuts are the easiest mid-morning snack or recess snack and my kids love them. Nuts have long-term benefits that reach into old age. It was found that eating a diet full of vitamin E rich nuts can reduce cognitive decline as you age. Nuts also contain essential fatty acids that help students focus. These delicious snacks provide a good amount of iron, which provides increased oxygen to the brain for better alertness and the ability to retain information. Nuts provide a great deal of energy for a small amount of food. This sounds like the perfect recipe for better performance at school!
No longer just a breakfast food, eggs are finding themselves in every meal of the day. While eggs are an excellent breakfast choice, along with a bowl of oatmeal, they can also hold their own in a lunchbox. I pack hard boiled eggs almost daily for my kids’ lunches. To simplify the lunch planning process, I boil a dozen eggs on Sunday and we are good to go for the week. Egg salad sandwiches are another great option for a mid-day protein grab. Those bright colored yolks contain tons of choline, which helps your child’s brain make acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, that may be important for memory recall. Eggs are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins B12 and D, which are imperative for cognitive power.
Yesssss! This is my favorite. I have always preferred dark chocolate, while my son on the other hand not so much. Before we get further, yes, it needs to be dark chocolate to reap the nutritious benefits. Dark chocolate can be bitter and some kids do not like the taste, but here’s how I got my son to eat it. First, I bought some dark cocoa powder and put it in his milk. He loves that! Another trick was buying those dark chocolate chips and putting them in raspberries. That is an ongoing requested treat in his lunchbox. Dark chocolate has tremendous brain power benefits, including increasing blood flow to multiple parts of the brain. Also, don’t forget the caffeine. Dark chocolate contains a healthy minimal amount of caffeine that improves brain function in children.
So when it comes to nutrition, eating smarter makes kids smarter! Try to implement a few of these suggestions and see what works for your kids.
In addition, share your creative ideas and tips on how you get your kids to eat brain power foods for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning challenges achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs