By Cheri Fuller
What your child eats affects brain development, learning and overall health and fitness. Recent research from University of California at Davis showed that when kids came to school well nourished, they performed better on tests, had improved memory and verbal skills. But when they skipped breakfast, it actually changed the way their brains worked, lowering the speed and accuracy of information retrieval and diminishing their school performance.
What can you do to boost their nutrition? Make sure your kids have more good-for-you foods and fewer high-calorie, low-nutrient, empty junk foods. Take them shopping at the grocery store so they can pick out their favorite nutritious foods. Don't pressure your children to be slim or they become critical of their bodies. Instead, put the spotlight on good health and exercise. Get the whole family involved in eating well and it will become something positive you do together.
Provide brain-boosting foods like these:
Complex carbohydrates, such as whole wheat break or bagels, oatmeal, vegetables and fruit, to keep energy up and stimulate serotonin, a brain chemical linked to calmness.
Protein, to boost metabolism and alertness. A peanut butter or chicken sandwich or a protein-packed lunch fends off afternoon slugginess on school days.
Calcium, found in milk, yogurt, and cheese, to build bones and teeth.
"Good fats," especially omega-3 fatty acids that enhance kids' ability to focus and concentrate on tasks. Good fats are found in fish, walnuts, and green leafy veggies.
Iron, from red meat, beans and other foods for good concentration.
Healthy munchies, like granola bars, popcorn, fruit smoothies, nuts and fruit.
With a combination of smart, nutritious eating and fun, heart-pumping activities, your kids will be on their way to healthy bodies and minds!
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