Brain Power in Breakfast
Brain Power in Breakfast
As a new semester begins, instill in students the value of eating breakfast each morning. Breakfast meals containing a lot of sugar with little nutritional value need to be avoided. Breakfasts should be high in fiber, whole grains, and protein and low in sugar and salt. When children have a healthy breakfast, they can boost their attention span, concentration, and memory — all of which are crucial for academic success.
Encouraging students to eat a healthy breakfast is a win-win for both the student and the teacher. The student learns and the teacher’s efforts are productive. If time is a factor, integrate health into the curriculum by asking students to write a “how-to” on preparing a fast, healthy breakfast (peanut butter on a bagel with fresh fruit and low-fat milk or a breakfast smoothie).
Students may also write a persuasive summary on the importance of breakfast for acquiring needed nutrients. Research has shown that a healthy breakfast each morning “tends to keep weight under control, lowers blood cholesterol levels and results in fewer school absences” (KidsHealth, 2009).
Skip the Fries, Please!
Trendy fast-food meals make their way into the vast majority of student diets. American culture’s fascination with quick, easy meal delivery has led to high-calorie, low nutritional intake. “There are many obstacles to children’s good nutrition today, including advertising efforts of the fast food industry that are aimed at children” (Education World, 2009).
The last few years have brought changes to the fast food industry including offering fruits and vegetables instead of chips and fries. Dr. Antonia Demas, president of the Food Studies Institute, says there’s “a perception that kids will not eat healthy foods, but they will if they receive positive education that is hands-on and sensory-based” (Education World, 2009).
“Schools are meeting nutritional challenges by using exercise curricula!” (Education World, 2009)
“Experts say that snacking on the right foods is not harmful; In fact, it can have health benefits for kids of all ages” (WebMD, 2009). Encourage students to drink plenty of water and bring healthy snacks to school, like fruits and vegetables. “Many kids eat lunch early and then have an afternoon of classes and maybe even an after-school activity before their next chance to eat.”
Snack size portions of pretzels or nuts can be filling while apples, oranges, and bananas are easy to peel and carry; all of these offer good nutritional value as well as an energy boost. “Studies show that snacking during the school day improves both mood and motivation, and may impact concentration. Snacks may help children maintain performance during times of high mental demand, like when taking an exam or making a class presentation” (WebMD, 2009).
“A good snack should take no more time to eat than it does to prepare!” (Kids Health, 2009)
Food Guide Pyramid
Challenge students to understand how the food guide pyramid, established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, can help them make healthy better food choices. The pyramid provides the opportunity for students to analyze food portion sizes and the importance of a well-balanced diet.
Here’s a step-by-step lesson example:
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