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The Best Food to Give Your Child For School

The Best Food to Give Your Child For School

Preparing your child properly to do well in school each day is not just a matter of making sure that they have done their homework. It is also important to be sure that you prepare them physically, sending them to school with as much energy as possible in order to make the most of their day. This means that you need to make sure that you feed them right to fuel their educational career.

Best Fuel for a Hard Day at School

Most Important Meal of the Day

When the school day starts, your children need to have the proper fuel to get going and keep going. The first step is a healthy and complete breakfast. When your child gets up in the morning, they are running on empty. It has been many hours since their last meal, the longest time that they will go without eating during the course of their day. Without breakfast, their body has no fuel and no ability to cope with the demands that your child will make upon it.

It is almost worse, however, to provide an inferior breakfast. Sugar and fat-filled breakfasts bring your child's energy level up just enough to get them to school and into class before crashing. This leaves your child sluggish and inattentive for the most important part of the school day. So what should your child eat to fuel their day?  

  • Oatmeal. Preferably not instant oatmeal. Oatmeal will leave your child feeling full while providing a slow-burning, long-lasting start to the day.
  • Eggs. Eggs are full of protein to fuel your child's morning, as well as vitamin D and nine essential amino acids.
  • Potatoes. Like oatmeal, potatoes provide a long lasting starch fuel to the body. They also contain necessary iron and potassium. They are especially healthy when eaten with the skins on.
  • Smoothies. Smoothies are a great way to serve a quick breakfast while stacking the nutritional deck. You can toss anything into a smoothie. As long as your child tastes a dominant palette of flavor that they approve of, they'll get their nutrients without complaining.

In addition to providing a filling meal, you need to make sure your child is getting something to drink. The best choice in the morning is either juice or water. A cold glass of water when your child first wakes up will help them feel more awake. A second glass with breakfast will make sure they're getting enough water before the start of the day.

Juice will provide your child with the vitamins and minerals they need to be healthy. Orange juice is a particularly good choice during the colder months, when disease is more common. Orange juice has lots of vitamin C in it, strengthening your child's immune system. If you opt for this choice, make sure you get a kind with reduced pulp or no pulp. Many children do not like the sensation of pulp in juice.

Don't Forget Your Lunch

Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but your child needs to eat throughout the day to maintain their energy and performance. Don't forget to offer them a healthy lunch option that will build upon the foundation you have set with their breakfast. If you can, it is best to give your child a bagged lunch rather than allowing them to buy one at school. This will provide you with some measure of control over the nutritional content of their meal.

A good lunch should be lighter than breakfast, but it should be planned with the same considerations in mind. Pack small servings of a variety of foods and try to make sure that you include something from each food group. This will allow your child to pick and choose what they'd like to eat, while still getting a relatively healthy meal. If you do it right, their lunch will carry them all the way through their afternoon and on into dinner.

If you pack your child's lunch for them, include a drink. A bottle of water is a great choice, since your child will likely head to recess not long after lunch. Making sure they're hydrated for the rest of the school day is very important. Alternatively, you can give them milk or juice. Once in a while, soda is fine- just not every day. Make it a treat for Fridays, or a way to make Mondays more bearable.

Recent News on Food in Schools

Food in schools is a bigger topic of discussion than you might realize! Many school districts are beginning to take the issue of well-fed children much more seriously. Conversations about how to ensure children are receiving the nutrition they need are at the forefront.

Recently, California became the first state to offer free meals for children at school. Both breakfast and lunch will be available to all students in the state, free of charge. This will help combat food insecurity, which is a persistent problem for youth across the nation. Colorado has also made a move to begin offering free meals to its students, continuing a trend that is sweeping some states across the nation.

Minnesota, Maine, New Mexico, and Vermont also have free meal programs in place for students. As of June 2023, 26 states are planning on implementing some kind of universal or expanded free meal program in their schools. If all of these schools approve universal or expanded free meal plans, that would mean that a majority of U.S. states offer free meals to their students. This would be a massive step in the right direction in regards to combating childhood food insecurity. If you live in one of these states, keep a close eye on the news to see if your state's government approves a universal or expanded free meal program.

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