Feeding the Brain

Posted on Mar 30, 2017 | 0 comments

Feeding the Brain

by Mrs. Johnston, 3’s teacher

Healthy brain function and development require good overall nutrition.

There aren’t any foods that can make children smarter, but making good food choices can definitely set them up for success. What children eat affects focus and cognitive skills. So, they must eat a healthy diet to make sure their brain has all the nutrients it needs to work properly.

Our brain sucks up about 20% of all the energy it takes to power your body’s many functions and activities.

To optimize our brain function, eat a wide variety of whole foods – including good sources of protein, lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish and other healthy fats.

We no longer have to eat processed foods for convenience. Fresh foods are readily available and delicious. It just takes a little bit of planning.

Every meal you and your child eat should contain lots of veggies and fruit, whole grains, protein, water and a little healthy fat. Every bite that goes in your child’s mouth is an opportunity to fuel their brain and body.

We want children to experience food with their senses. Not only should the food taste good, it should be visually appealing.

Every meal should be well balanced with all the nutrients needed to feed the brain and body. Lunch is often a meal that children do away from the family. How can we make sure they are having a well-balanced meal that they will eat, is visually appealing, and easy to access?

There is an alternative to lunch bags and boxes filled with Ziploc’s and hard to open containers. It is a bento box. They are a perfectly portioned, creative, fun way to pack and serve lunch. The food is easily accessible and visually appealing for children to eat.

Tips for achieving:

  • Plan your family dinners ahead of time and use leftovers in lunch.
  • Be realistic – you can keep it very simple initially – make your own “lunchable” with cheese, whole grain cracker, fruit and veggies. Or you can make a pizza one with your own sauce, freshly grated cheese, pita and some fresh basil. An actual Lunchable contains artificial colors, nitrates, and trans fats, and is low in fiber, with 38% sugar, and 240-1,497 mgs sodium and therefore highly discouraged by our staff!
  • Find a time that works for you. Pack them morning or the night before. Make lunches for the whole family this way.
  • Healthy means not processed.

Bento Packing Principles

How much – depends on child. If too much is coming home pack less, wiped clean pack a little more. They know when to stop eating because they are full. We should listen, watch and take note. Eat what you need.

Portions and proportions – Protein/complex carb/veggie/fruit/treat. It’s all about a good balance. Children love to eat a little this and little that. They know when to stop eating because they are full. We should listen, watch and take note. Eat what you need.

Ages 2 to 3: Daily guidelines for girls and boys

  • Calories: 1,000-1,400 depending on growth and activity level
  • Protein: 2-4 ounces
  • Fruits: 1-1.5 cups
  • Vegetables: 1-1.5 cups
  • Grains: 3-5 ounces
  • Dairy: 2 cups

Ages 4 to 8: Daily guidelines for girls

  • Calories: 1,200-1,800 depending on growth and activity level
  • Protein: 3-5 ounces
  • Fruits: 1-1.5 cups
  • Vegetables: 1.5-2.5 cups
  • Grains: 4-6 ounces
  • Dairy: 2.5 cups

Ages 4 to 8: Daily guidelines for boys

  • Calories: 1,200-2,000 depending on growth and activity level
  • Protein: 3-5.5 ounces
  • Fruits: 1-2 cups
  • Vegetables: 1.5-2.5 cups
  • Grains: 4-6 ounces
  • Dairy: 2.5 cups

More tips:

  • Pack the rainbow – keep it colorful. You don’t have to have a nutrition degree to pack a healthy lunch.
  • Make sure your children see you eating a wide variety of foods. We must model what good and healthy food is by setting the example.
  • Never give up on providing a healthy variety of foods for your kids. It can take up to 15 times of packing fresh green beans or any food before they try them. Keep trying. It is worth it.

Some recommended links:

Fun recipes can be found at…

Little Bento by Michele Olivier

Babyfoode (also on Facebook)

We also recommend the book Everyday Bento by Wendy Thorpe Copley

Planet Box offers an all-stainless, no-mixing bento in a variety for sizes for the whole family.

Find other bento boxes on Amazon