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Improving Focus Through Diet

Have you ever wondered why certain foods can make children more irritable, moody, or hyperactive after eating them? Occasionally there is a specific food intolerance of some sort, but many times it is due to high glycemic foods and drinks – this means that the spike in sugar levels creates a high, then a crash later as the body over adjusts for the quick spike. If you have ever attended a child’s birthday party, you know what I am talking about!

So, what types of healthy snacks will best support your children’s ability to focus and learn while at school, keep them feeling “even-keeled” and also give them the energy needed to make it through their busy day? Plus, they need good nourishment to support their immune systems to keep them protected from circulating viruses (did you know that sugary foods can temporarily overtax the immune system and reduce the body’s defenses for many hours afterwards?). And, they need to be nut-free choices for most schools. Oh, and let’s keep it easy, shall we?

Balancing a healthy supply of complex carbohydrates from whole grains, high power fruits and vegetables, and good sources of protein do much in the way of keeping your child fueled throughout the day, without crashing. Serve them with water, or milk. See below:

  • cubes of cheese with grapes and whole grain crackers
  • slices of apple with dipping container of sunflower seed butter
  • strips of baked or rotisserie chicken with pita, and carrot sticks
  • “ants on a log”: celery sticks that your child can spread sunflower seed butter on, and then sprinkle with raisins*. (Due to the high glycemic value of dried fruit, particularly raisins, it is best not to offer raisins as a sole snack, but in combination with other foods they are great!)
  • make your own yogurt: buy quarts of plain yogurt, add fresh fruit or apple sauce of your choice. You may sweeten with a touch of honey if needed. Pack in an insulated container for school snacks. For drinkable yogurt, simply throw these ingredients in a blender with small amounts of milk until you get the consistency that you desire. This is a much cheaper way to create yogurt and yogurt smoothies, and far more healthy than the sugary products in the store.
  • Zucchini, carrot, and yogurt multigrain muffins, such as the recipe on allrecipes.com (See reference at the bottom of this article.) 
  • Homemade nut-free granola bars – you control how much sugar to add. A great option that can be made and portioned ahead of time. A good example is the Nut-free Healthy Granola Bars recipe from allrecipes.com  (See reference at the bottom of this article.)
  • edamame and cubes of cheese
  • Pear and Cheese Pinwheels from Recipe.com. (See reference at the bottom of this article.)

Snacks marketed as “healthy”  that are surprisingly not very healthy:

Juice: Many juices are mixed with things like concentrated grape juice (which is just sugar) as well as corn syrup and artificial colorings. And even real juice from organic fruit is still very sugary and devoid of fiber and other nutrients once present in the whole fruit. Juice packs on the sugar and promotes cavities, just like soda. Whole fruit is always a better choice – by itself or within a smoothie.

“Diet” or processed and marketed “sugar free” offerings: these use a range of indigestible simple carbohydrates which interfere with focus, upset stomachs, and may cause people to over-consume at a later time.

Raisins: don’t use alone as the sole snack because they are high glycemic foods/sugary. However, they can be great as a flavoring added to something healthier like granola bars or oatmeal.

Fruit rollups: sugar, no fiber

Processed yogurt and yogurt smoothie cups for kids: loaded with sugar!

“Snackables” and other similar processed foods: loaded with preservatives, artificial colorings, flavorings, sodium, sometimes MSG.

Commercial granola bars and power bars: careful with these, some are good, but most are loaded with white sugar, corn syrup, artificial sweeteners and artificial flavorings.

As you know, there is a whole lot of marketing aimed squarely at your child for unhealthy and heavily processed snack foods. For now, please consider taking control by preparing snacks from scratch and packing foods from home, for your children and for yourself. With a little planning, and the occasional preparation of “batch” snacks and portioning ahead of time, it becomes a habit. You are both well worth it!

Do you have some favorite healthy snack recipes to share?

If you are looking for a good stainless steel lunch and snack container, the one that I like is the Stainless Steel Bento Box Food Container: ECO Lunchbox Oval (2 Piece Set) on Amazon.com. (See reference at the bottom of this article.)

by Cora Rivard, N.D./Seasons Natural Healthcare, LLC

Refs:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/zucchini-yogurt-multigrain-muffins/detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Title&e11=zucchini%20carrot%20muffins&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Recipe%20Search%20Results

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/playgroup-granola-bars/detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Title&e11=kids%20granola%20bars&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Home%20Page

http://www.recipe.com/pear-pinwheels/

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004A2BPU8/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B004A2BPU8&linkCode=as2&tag=themommillu-20

 

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The information provided in this site is intended for general informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical advice and is not intended to provide complete medical information. KidsMisdiagnosed, Inc does not offer personalized medical diagnosis of patient-specific treatment advice. All medical information presented should be discussed with your healthcare professional. Remember, the failure to seek timely medical advice can have serious ramifications. KidsMisdiagnosed, Inc urges you to discuss any current health related problems you or your child are experiencing with a healthcare professional immediately.