We’ve done our homework and the answer is clear: Good food = good students.
We also know that keeping kids active is not only good for their body, but also their mind.
Getting kids to eat a healthy meal at home is hard enough. Making sure they get a proper lunch at school, with the siren call of recess and the pandemonium of the cafeteria all around them, can seem almost impossible. Sun Basket’s Registered Dietitian Kaley Todd shares some of her findings and offers real-life lunchtime solutions.
What the experts say:
A paper published in the Journal of School Health, surveying 5,200 fifth-grade students and their parents as part of the Canadian Children’s Lifestyle and School-performance Study, found improved reading and writing scores in the students with higher fruit and vegetable intake. Not surprisingly, an Icelandic study including 5,800 students, found that when the kid’s diets suffer, so do their grades. One report points to a link between diets that include large amounts of sugar-sweetened soft drinks, sweets, chocolate, savory snacks, pizza, and hot dogs, with an increased difficulty with math.
Strategies for a Smarter School Lunch
Let the Kids Help: Kids are more likely to eat the food that they have prepared. Involve your child in planning, shopping, and packing. It’s a great way to educate your son or daughter on healthy choices and increase the chance that lunch won’t end up in the garbage.
Beyond the Brown Bag: Presentation can be a powerful tool to encourage healthy choices. Lunch is much more fun when it’s packed in a decorated bag or lunchbox, or if includes special utensils. Let your kid pick out a bento box with colorful chopsticks, or a tiffin with a bright cloth napkin. Or simply let them color a brown bag with crayons and markers before leaving for school.
Trade up: Swap the lunch-box standbys for something just as exciting, yet healthier. Instead of a fruit roll up or gummy snacks, tuck in a mix of dried fruits like apricots, cherries, and mangoes for a nutrient-dense treat. Trade juice boxes for a Thermos filled with a homemade smoothie.