As the new school year is underway, some parents find it difficult to help their child get enough nutrients to make it through the school day.
“Nutrition is probably the number one issue we discuss with universally all families when they come in for any reason to our office throughout the entire year,” said Via Christi Health pediatrician Dr. Amy Seery.
Studies show that nutritious foods can positively impact a child’s learning ability.
“A kid who’s hungry is often distracted,” said Dr. Seery. “Kids who have a large amount of caffeine, they could be a little wild…harder to concentrate.”
One common mistake is giving a child cereal for breakfast, according to Dr. Seery.
Cereal doesn’t have a lot of protein.
“When you eat it early in the morning, you get a big nice spike early on in your system’s glucose, so sugar levels. Then it comes crashing down,” she explained.
Dr. Seery suggested adding proteins or foods that digest slowly for breakfast. It gives the body a backup reserve of good sugars that will keep the body satisfied until the next meal.
For parents looking to improve their child’s nutrition, Dr. Seery recommends:
- Continuously talking to kids about nutritious foods
- Keeping children involved in picking out foods
- Give them a variety of tastes and textures, so they don’t only crave sweets
- Make small, nutritious changes over time
- Don’t buy junk food. Kids only eat what’s available to them
A balanced meal
A balanced meal contains fruits, veggies, grains and proteins.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, anyone under 18 years old should eat: 1/2 serving of fruits or veggies, 1/4 grains, 1/4 protein, and either milk or water.
Dr. Seery said parents should stay away from any juices.
“A lot of families perceive juices to be healthy because they’re made from fruit, but it’s always better to eat the actual fruit,” Dr. Seery said. “Juice is really a junk food.”
Many students buy breakfast or lunch at school. Dr. Seery believes schools are finding good ways to provide students a balanced meal.
Wichita Public Schools created the Student Wellness Guidelines to help promote student wellness and combat childhood obesity.