The best set up is of course a healthy breakfast in the morning, and making sure that breakfast energy lasts all the way to recess, if schools even have "recess" anymore??
New environments, mentally challenging tasks, learning new things, challenging and working our memory paths, amazingly enough, doesn't use that much more energy than normal baseline activities of a lazy lake day in summer. What is amazing is the energy expenditure of our brains on any given day. Young and old, our brains use apx 20% of our total caloric intake as it's fuel source. Seeing as it is only 2% of our body mass, the ratio is extraordinarily high. Studies show that most of this energy is used in maintenance of the brain and in this process needs a constant and steady supply.
While the food industry markets "healthy cereals", low in sugar, made with whole grains, vitamin fortified, with colourful graphics that catch the attention of all, even the "healthiest" cereals are not the most awesome option to start the day with. Lacking in fats and protein, these refined carbohydrates will quickly be broken down and digested at a cellular level, the brain will be feed, and the energy will be there to meet the needs of the moment..... but only for a short while, spiking insulin levels, and setting up the inevitable crash of the processed carbohydrate meal.
To slow the digestion of these sugars down, fats, protein, and fibre are a good start to make the glucose slowly release for sustained energy for much longer.
Whole grain toast and peanut or almond butter supplies a balance of healthy fats, protein, fibre , and carbohydrates that are needed to sustain and moderate glucose digestion, avoiding the crashes before the next meal. Avoid spreads with added sugar as those can create energy deficits by spiking insulin levels and then a dramatic drop off blood sugar when it has been quickly ushered into the cells, instead stick to sugar free products.
Organic Rolled oats topped with walnuts, almonds, chia and flax seeds and fresh berries, supply the similar balanced energy source that is great for those needing gluten free options. Add almond flour, swap the fresh for dried berries, bake the mix and call it a seedy breakfast bar, ready-made, nutritious, delicious not time breakfast. Follow the recipe here.
Boiled eggs are a great source of protein, sustaining energy through the morning. Making them the night before for one of the easiest, nature packed breakfast options. Always look for organic, free range, ethical eggs to avoid antibiotics, excess stress hormones, and toxins that are passed on from their feed.
In our house, the breakfast of champions consists of premade sauteed tofu bites and sweet potato hashbrowns, steamed kale or chard, and 1/2 an avocado. If everything is prepped in the fridge, this breakfast takes less time than oatmeal to prepare in the morning. I leave the tofu and sweet potato in a large glass container as it will stay good for days in the refrigerator , in another container I pre chop dark leafy greens so I can just grab a handful to throw in the pan while I'm heating up the hash. The avocado is the only measurable effort I put, if you count halving or quartering it, into an amazingly yummy morning breakfast.
Get your kids involved on the weekend making healthy snacks for the school week to come, can avoid these pit falls as they will be much more fascinated with eating the date and walnut muffins they made themselves than a slimy fruit cup from their desk partner..
Power balls are an easy, delightful snack time idea. Veggies and dip, fresh fruit and nuts, if you keep them all prepped in the fridge and let your young one be apart of preparing their lunch, with choices and responsibility, they will be more likely to finish whats in the box, and it sets them up with life long food skills and a healthy relationship with the kitchen.
Lunch should be the same idea, mixing healthy carbohydrates from whole grains, with proteins, and healthy fats, prepping for the week. Involving your kids with the choices and responsibility of feeding themselves will set them up with lifelong skills that so many struggle with in our busy, busy society.
Picky eaters have better success when they are allowed to pick from a healthy selection of food rather than being given a set lunch. An hour of food prep with them on Sundays could gain you 15-25 mins in every morning, for me, that is a decent return as I'm not the earliest of risers..
The most important take home is the relationships with food and the family, preparing it, sharing it, learning new things, creating healthy habits, and having time to bond. We learn all of these things at a very early age and it set the stage for lifetime habits.
~To everyones success in health and happiness.