Eat Well, Learn Better
New research published in the Journal of School Health proves that what kids eat has a direct impact on school performance. The University of Alberta study involved more than 5,000 children. Kids who got a lot of their calories from fruits and vegetables—and less from salty and fatty foods—had higher reading scores.
“These findings support the broader implementation and investment in effective school nutrition programs that have the potential to improve student access to healthy food choices, diet quality, academic performance, and, over the long term, health,” said researcher Paul Veugelers.
Pack a powerful pantry
How do you help your kids eat more fruits and veggies? First, fill your refrigerator with fruit and vegetables. Pull sugary, salty and fatty junk food snacks out of your pantry and replace them with snacks such as nuts,100% whole grain cereals or crackers and popcorn (stovetop popped is best!). Take time to plan and prepare simple home cooked meals that include fresh fruits and vegetables. After all, helping your children choose fruit and veggies as part of their daily diets is as important as helping them with homework.
Kids are what you eat. Set a good example—you’ll enjoy health benefits for yourself, as well.
Kids allways make their way to the pantry for an after school snack. Switch things up and make an activity out of your after school snack! Here are a few suggestions:
Fresh Fruit Salsa:
1 cup fresh pineapple, diced
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, diced
1 cup cantaloupe, diced
1 cup honeydew melon, diced
3 kiwi fruit, peeled and diced
3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
1/2 cup Old Orchard Apple Kiwi Strawberry Juice Cocktail
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and toss gently.
Chill together for at least 1 hour to let the flavors combine.
Serve with toasted flour tortilla wedges, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar
Kiwi Gelatin Cups:
4 cups Old Orchard Kiwi Strawberry 100% Juice*
4 envelopes of unflavored gelatin
4 kiwis, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
In a large bowl, mix the gelatin with 1 cup of juice and allow to stand for a few minutes.
Heat the remaining 3 cups of juice in a saucepan until just boiling.
Pour over the juice and gelatin mixture and stir until dissolved.
Place kiwi slices in the bottom of a 9” x 9” glass pan, or use small glass cups for individual servings.
Pour gelatin mixture into pan or cups and chill in refrigerator until completely firm.
*Substitute with 100% Apple Juice and some green food coloring for a fun green-colored treat! Can also be made with Healthy Balance Apple or Apple Kiwi Strawberry reduced-sugar juice drinks.
To view all of our tasty snack options, visit our Recipe Page.
Begin with breakfast.
Making sure your kids eat breakfast does more than give you the opportunity to serve up some fruit. “Eating among Teens,” a University of Minnesota school of Public Health Project, found that young people who eat breakfast have healthier diets overall, are more physically active and are not as apt to be overweight. Try grapefruit, slices of a favorite fresh fruit, frozen blueberries or strawberries blended with yogurt and a delicious glass of 100% fruit juice. Try out any of our 100% Juices & Blends. These juices are packed with flavor and contain no added sugars, sweeteners, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. To view all of our flavors, click here.
“Although adolescents may think that skipping breakfast seems like a good way to save on calories, findings suggest the opposite,” said Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Ph.D., principal investigator. “Eating a healthy breakfast may help adolescents avoid overeating later in the day and disrupt unhealthy eating patterns, such as not eating early in the day and eating a lot late in the evening.”
Stick it to the lunch lady
While you can control what your kids eat before and after school, what about that important mid-day meal, the school lunch? Many of the foods served as school lunches are high in sodium and fats, often unhealthy hydrogenated or trans fats. While touting compliance with the USDA food pyramid, lunch menus offer non-nutritious convenience foods like French fries, tater tots, walking tacos or bread sticks with tomato sauce. Even when fresh fruits or vegetables are offered, kids fill up on the junk foods first and often toss the fruit or celery sticks in the trash.
What are your options as a parent? Well, you can become a nutrition advocate and demand smarter lunches (for smarter kids) or you can have your kids brown bag it. Looking for brown bag lunch ideas that go beyond the sandwich? Click here.
Family dinner is a winner
Cooking whole foods from scratch can sound like a chore. With simple recipes and a little planning, you’ll find the health benefits and few minutes spent in the kitchen far outweigh the time you spend idling in the drive-through lane for nutrient-poor, fat laden fast food. Also, many studies have stated that kids who regularly sit down to family meals are not only better nourished but also get better grades; are less likely to smoke, drink or use marijuana; get into fewer fights; and are less likely to become involved in sexual activity. Click here to read more about the benefits of family meals.
Lunchbox brain food: quick tips
• 100% whole grain breads. Change things up with a whole wheat pasta salad—packed with fresh vegetable cuts.
• Layer on the veggies. Add lettuce, tomato, green pepper or cucumber slices and sprouts to sandwiches.
• Make it fruity. Include a piece of fresh fruit and 100% fruit juice.
• Salad days. Toss in a salad with romaine, spinach, carrot slices, nuts and sunflower seeds. Pack a little dressing separately in a plastic container or zip-lock bag.
• No sugary or salty treats! They’ll eat these first and throw the healthy foods away.