Kids are learning at a rapid pace, and their awareness extends beyond the classroom. Along with social skills, they’re learning how to accept responsibility, which includes how to take care of themselves. With the pressure to perform well academically, the importance of nutrition can fall to the wayside. And while it may be second-nature for an adult to consider their eating schedule for the day, kids often times need more guidance in understanding what their body needs to function optimally.
To help you teach your kids how to keep themselves energized through the school day, here are three simple tips:
1. Eat a balanced breakfast
Why is breakfast so important? Eating breakfast helps maintain energy levels, uphold satiety and helps kids establish regular eating patterns.
When we sleep, our bodies are still using energy – our hearts are beating, our lungs are breathing and our tissues are undergoing growth and repair. Upon waking, our cortisol levels are elevated (cortisol: a hormone indicating stress) and our glycogen stores are slightly depleted (glycogen: stored carbohydrates in our body that provide us with energy). Eating breakfast helps decrease cortisol levels and top off glycogen stores. Think of it this way – how would you feel leaving the house in the morning knowing your phone has only 80% battery life? That’s your body without breakfast.
2. Prioritize snacks
Kids have relatively high energy needs and smaller stomachs than adults. This means kids may benefit from snacking, and planning to have snacks available helps ensure their energy levels remain steady throughout the day.
A substantial snack includes a good source of both carbohydrates and protein. Some of my favorites include:
It’s beneficial to get your kids involved in cooking and packing their own food, too. While it may not seem like much, it serves as an educational opportunity for kids to understand the importance of fueling their bodies appropriately.
3. Practice good eating habits at home
Kids adopt their eating habits from their parents. It’s important to model good eating habits at home because it translates to good eating habits at school. The following graphic offers some tips on how to do this, with the exception of number 7 (for my reasons, see above!):
For more recipe and snack ideas, check out our recipe page!