Most people know that a balanced diet and regular exercise keep the body, bones and muscles in tip-top shape. Did you know the same is true of your brain? Certain foods increase the blood flow to the brain, nourish the brain cells, and protect the brain from free radicals.
As a Mom, you desire to see your children succeed, especially academically. One of your goals of life is to provide nourishment for your child’s body while also keeping them physically fit, emotionally resilient, and engaged in positive relationships.
As your little ones adventure off to school, send them off well. One of the best ways send your kiddos off to school is with a healthy diet. Healthy kids are better learners, more successful students, and healthier grown ups! Plus nourishing your child’s noggin enhances levels of concentration which lead to academic success!
These foods can be a healthy breakfast to start the day, great items to pack in a lunchbox, or a perfect snack to munch on after school. Your child’s brain will thank you (and their report card will reveal the benefits!).
Be a Nut for Nuts and Seeds
Your kid’s body is composed of cells; the membranes of those cells are supported by the bountiful nutrients of nuts and seeds. Not that your child is facing aging issues yet, but nuts and seeds are also known to to reduce the risk of memory loss.
Nuts and Seeds: peanuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, flax seeds.
Breakfast: Seeded bread/toast, yogurt with granola and seeds, smoothie with seeds and nuts, almond milk
Lunch: sandwich with seed bread and nut butter, trail mix
After school snack: seed crackers (or apple) with nut butter, trail mix
Gobble up Berries
Chocolate-covered strawberries. Raspberries filled with a white chocolate chip. No child (or grown up!) could resist such a tasty treat. Guess what? You don’t have to!
When your child’s body inhales oxygen, free radicals are naturally produced. And since your brain consumes more oxygen than any other organ, it produces a large amount of free radicals. The powerful antioxidants in berries fight the harmful effects of free radicals. Go ahead and feel the freedom to offer your little ones plenty of berries.
Types of Berries: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, blackberries
Breakfast: berry smoothie, yogurt with berries, oatmeal with berries
Lunch: berry salad, raspberry stuffed with a white chocolate chip, berry applesauce pouch, dried cranberries
After school snack: apple topped with nut butter and dried berries, trail mix with nut berries, berry applesauce pouch, strawberries dipped in dark chocolate
Indulge on Chocolate
Berries and chocolate go together. Just like those chocolate covered strawberries or the raspberry stuffed with a white chocolate chip. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, also contains antioxidants that fight off free radicals like a superhero battles against an arch nemesis.
Besides tasting absolutely delicious, chocolate boosts the blood flow to the brain, enhances concentration, and even improves memory. Don’t hesitate to let your child indulge in a piece of dark chocolate so their brain can be fed with happy nutrients. Just be sure to save yourself a piece too!
Worried about giving your kiddos chocolate? (Insert vision of hyper child bouncing off the walls here.) Dark chocolate contains less sugar than milk chocolate, but it does contain some caffeine. Offering chocolate earlier in the day is the best option, that way their energy starts to dwindle before bedtime.
Other types of foods rich in antioxidants: pomegranates, broccoli, artichokes, grape juice, orange juice
Breakfast: yogurt with dark chocolate nibs
Lunch: a piece of dark chocolate
After school snack: strawberries dipped in dark chocolate, dark chocolate cookie, s’more with dark chocolate
Green Veggies Galore
In case you haven’t noticed, green veggies are really good for your kids! If you little one doesn’t care for greens, find a way to sneak them into smoothies, muffins, pizza or casseroles. The potent nutrients in any kind of green vegetable allow your child’s brain to function at full capacity, improve mood, increase problem solving abilities, and even reduce brain atrophy (loss of muscle).
Types of green veggies: spinach, lettuce, kale, broccoli, green beans, edamame, collard greens, turnip greens, swiss chard, asparagus
Breakfast: green smoothie, roasted asparagus
Lunch: spinach or kale pesto on pasta or a sandwich, salad, cold pizza with spinach, broccoli cheddar soup
After school snack: kale chips, green bean crisps or edamame crisps
Many people believe that avocados are one of the best foods in the entire world…your child’s brain agrees! I understand your kid may find this green food gross – but you can make it interesting. Teach your child how to slice and mash an avocado. Did you know that you can even grow an avocado plant from the seed? Get your hands in the dirt and plant an avocado sprout!
The fiber, fats and vitamins in avocados are super nutritious. It also produces dopamine, which enhances focus, and the monounsaturated fats increase the amount of blood that reaches the brain.
Breakfast: toast with avocado
Lunch: veggie salad (avocado, tomatoes, cucumbers and feta cheese), quesadilla with guacamole, chicken salad with avocado (replace mayo with mashed avocado), avocado sliced on a sandwich
After school snack: guacamole and chips,
Don’t go feeding your kids a spoonful of coconut oil (ew). But incorporate it into your regular cooking and your whole family will reap the benefits! It contains medium chain triglycerides, which direct energy to your brain without boosting insulin levels. It prevents heart attacks and may even be a cure for neurological disorders like dementia. (It’s never too early to begin protecting your brain and body from the effects of aging!)
Coconut in general has similar effects, so try coconut milk, dairy-free coconut ice cream, or coconut water. Your brain (and your heart) will thank you!
Other coconut foods:
Breakfast: add a scoop of coconut oil to your smoothies, use coconut oil when making eggs
Lunch: salad with a coconut oil dressing
After school snack: popcorn cooked in coconut oil
Need a new idea for your dinner menu? Add in salmon! Salmon is packed with omega 3 fatty acids which help with learning, boost verbal intelligence, improve memory, and fight both mood and mental disorders. Bonus: they also have been scientifically proven to assist with symptoms related to ADHD, depression, anxiety, memory, stress, bipolar disorder, and mood.
Other types of fish: tuna, sardines, herring, mackerel, halibut
Other sources of omega 3 fatty acids: pumpkin seeds, soybeans, kiwi fruit, dietary supplement
Breakfast: baked salmon fillet, salmon caesar wrap, scrambled eggs and salmon breakfast sandwich
Lunch: fish sticks
After school snack: salmon dip and crackers, salmon and black bean dip
Boost Your Kids Brain Power
Start your kid’s day with a tasty breakfast that will stimulate their brain for a full day of school. Pack them a lunch that packs a punch to rekindle their energy. When they get home from school, offer a snack that won’t let their brain power drain during homework time.
You’re an awesome Mom and you are helping your child thrive with a healthy diet! Watch them put forth their best efforts with a body full of energy. Tell your child how proud you are and squeeze them in a hug, and you’ll see their heart melt. Eat, drink and be merry with your kiddos!
Jana has called Murfreesboro, Tennessee home for the last 16 years…except for the 18 months she spent traveling across Europe with her husband by her side and a carry-on sized backpack on her back. After visiting 22 countries and spending a significant amount of time in Rome, Italy, she returned to good ol’ Tennessee. You can learn more about Jana at www.JanaAplin.blogspot.com