Doing your homework and studying hard is only half the equation. More and more research is pointing to a healthy diet being one of the most significant factors of academic outcomes. Your child’s (and your) food choices can make or break them when it comes to focusing in the classroom. Try sneaking some of these foods on-to their breakfast plate, or into their lunchbox, everyday to help increase their focus and energy levels and eat their way to A+ grades.
1. Whole Grains
Whole grain breads, crackers, pastas, and whole grains such as oats, brown rice, and barley are full of vitamin B6, which helps the brain’s memory function. Try some whole wheat pasta with pesto for dinner, or some oatmeal with fruit for breakfast. When buying whole grain breads, crackers, or pastas, make sure to looking for “100% Whole Grain” on the label.
Salmon has high amounts of Omega- 3 fatty acids. Since the brain is made primarily of fatty tissue, these oils are essential for proper brain function. Eating foods high in these healthy fats will help increase focus in class and efficiency while doing homework or studying.
Berries contain antioxidants which help fight inflammation. The body can easily become inflamed during times of high (physical or emotional) stress that might coincide with a big test or sports game. Try some fresh berries topped with a drizzle of honey for a delicious and healthy dessert or snack to keep your child calm and healthy through tough times.
Tomatoes contain lycopene, which is a great antioxidant to protect the brain from memory loss. Remembering those vocabulary words and math equations could be a little bit easier after eating some fresh salsa made with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, salt and pepper. Pair the tomatoes with some sort of healthy fat (fish, nuts, olives, or olive oil) to make it easier for the body to absorb lycopene.
Broccoli has the ability to convert tryptophan (the amino acid in your body that makes you tired) into serotonin (the chemical in your brain that makes you happy), so it is a perfect study aid. Enjoy some broccoli roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper at dinner or serve it raw alongside some hummus to help your kids be most alert when doing their homework. Have a house full of broccoli haters? Try hiding it by blending it into some tomato sauce or adding it into a soup.
6. Sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds contains the amino acid tryptophan (see #5, broccoli). This time, we’re taking advantage of the tiring effects of sunflower seeds as they can make a great bedtime snack. Tryptophan has a calming, stress-relieving effect that makes eating sunflower seeds a perfect all natural sleep-aid. You can also try sun-nut butter (an alternative to peanut butter) spread on some whole grain toast or crackers.
Nuts contain healthy, unsaturated fats as well as iron. These fats promote efficiency and focus, while the iron increases the oxygen flow to the brain, increasing alertness and improving the ability to retain information. Pack a baggie of mixed nuts or trail mix in your kids’ lunchbox for a mid-day snack.
Avocados have a fatty acid called oleic acid, which helps build the brain structure called myelin, which helps information travel through the brain. This structure is essential for storing and recalling information. Try making some homemade guacamole with avocado, tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, and lime juice for a delicious study snack.
Bananas are full of potassium, which helps oxygen flow to the brain. Just like your muscles need oxygen when exercises, your brain needs oxygen when thinking. This sweet and delicious snack is conveniently pre-packaged, all you need to do is throw it in the backpack!
10. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, which will brighten up your mood for an extended period of time. Having a snack that includes some dark chocolate may spark that creativity your child needs for their next book report. Try mixing a few pieces of chocolate into a trail mix (#7) for an extra nutrient boost.
Try making your kids some peppermint tea with honey and lemon as a “power drink” to help them stay energized and alert without those negative, shaky effects of caffeine or a sugar-sweetened beverage. Peppermint tea is stimulating and can boost the immune system (no more sick days).
Nothing is worse than trying to encourage your kids to focus and pay attention if they have the sniffles. Drinking a small glass of orange juice, or better, enjoying a whole orange, which is high in vitamin C, will help keep the immune system strong and prevent colds.
Do you know of any other brain foods? Have you found snacks that help your children focus on homework or in school? Let us know in the comment section below.