Fueling Student Performance Through Nutritious Meals

There are a lot of factors that play a role in academic performance, but a key contributor is eating a well-balanced diet. When students are hungry, it should come as no surprise that they have more trouble focusing and processing information, their attention wains, they perform more poorly on tests, and they have less energy. However, when they’ve eaten a nutritious meal and their stomachs are full, they can focus on academics and put their best foot forward.

It is not uncommon for middle and high school students to skip out on lunch because they don’t like what is being offered, or they’re spending their time catching up on homework or studying. Even at home, when schedules are busy, students may be forced to eat on the run and aren’t always grabbing the most nutritious options.

As a parent, it’s important to ensure your child is ready to face the day and perform their best in school by starting off with a hearty breakfast and having a well-balanced lunch to keep them going. According to a study of 9,700 elementary, middle, and high schools in California, “Contracting with a healthy meal vendor correlated with increased student performance by between .03 and .04 standard deviations — a statistically significant improvement for economically disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students.” What they’re eating matters!

What Parents Can Do to Support Nutritious Meals

First of all, make sure your child isn’t skipping out on breakfast or lunch. If they don’t like what is on the school menu, pack a healthy option for them to take along with foods they will eat. Also, discuss eating a variety of foods at school including fruits and vegetables and drinking milk.

Here are some other tips for creating a meal that will support student performance:

· Fresh fruits and vegetables. Add vegetables to salads and sandwiches and pack whole seasonal fruits like strawberries, apples, oranges, or bananas. Have plenty on hand at home too so your child can grab a nutritious snack after school of celery sticks and peanut butter, carrots and hummus, or a handful of blueberries or grapes and some almonds. Try to steer clear of chips, cookies, crackers, and other processed foods that don’t have as much nutritional value.

· Calcium. This nutrient isn’t just good for strong bones, but a strong brain as well! Calcium can help the brain process and retain information better while also increasing energy and decreasing risk of illness. If your child isn’t a huge fan of milk, yogurt or cheese can be good options too.

· Carbohydrates. Not just any carbs though. Go for complex carbohydrates such as whole grains because they break down more slowly to keep blood sugar stable. They can also keep your child feeling fuller longer and improve energy and focus. Pick foods with higher nutritional value like brown rice, whole grains, or sweet potatoes over white potatoes or bread.

· Water. Skip the soda or juice and stick with fresh, cold water. Dehydration slows brain performance and can cloud thinking. Make sure your child has a water bottle handy so they can drink throughout the day and stay hydrated. Plenty of water also helps them to stay energized, alert, and focused. Not a fan of plain water? Spruce it up with fresh lemon, lime, orange, or cucumber slices or some crushed mint leaves.

By fueling your student’s body and brain with nutritious foods, you can help them to perform better in school because they’re more likely to be alert, their mind can process information more effectively, their mood is improved because they’re not hungry, and they’re getting a variety of nutrients to ward off illness (and in turn absenteeism).

Crafting Scholars can support student success as well by assisting students with creating study plans, preparing for tests, reinforcing challenging concepts, staying organized, and understanding how they learn best. Give your child the tools they need to thrive with healthy meals at home and school and academic tutoring from Crafting Scholars. Contact us today to get started and prepare your child for the future.