Let’s talk about school food and student success. I’ve spent lots of time in schools, and what’s typically fed to kids is not what I’d call brain supportive. Look at most school menus and you’ll find items filled with sugars, chemicals, and unhealthy fats. It’s not the nutrient-dense food needed for healthy bodies and brains! It’s surprising what the impacts of school food on student brain function.
The Brain-Food Connection
Much of what kids eat in school puts kids on a blood sugar rollercoaster all day. This causes and worsens issues from poor attention to irritable mood to aggressive behavior and more.
If we want to stack the deck in favor of kids being able to focus, get work done, socialize well, and regulate emotions and behaviors then we have to look at what they’re eating during the school day.
Things like strawberry milk, iceberg lettuce, “walking tacos”, and French fries just aren’t going to cut it. Same for the M&Ms, Skittles, goldfish crackers, and other “rewards” handed out in far too many classrooms.
My point here isn’t to shame school staff members. The entire system isn’t set up to support health-supportive food options. It starts with issues likes government funding, lobbying on the part of big food corporations/industries, lack of accurate information about nutrition, and more. It IS possible to provide healthy delicious food with the budget schools are provided. There are schools doing it all over the country, and organizations that can help.
Tangible Steps to Make a Positive Difference Impacts of School Food on Student Brain Function
✅If you work with students stop using candy and other non-nutrient dense food as rewards – especially for the kids who struggle the most with their behavior!
✅ If you’re a parent who is able to feed your child breakfast at home and send them to school with health-supportive food, then do that.
✅ Advocate for change in your local school food program. Look at resources like those from @bettinaeliassiegel and @chefannfoundation to help you.
✅ Teach kids about the brain-food connection, and what helps or hurts their ability to be their best.
Here’s a blog post that I think you will find more information about what kids may be eating at school, 4 Toxins Lurking in Your Child’s “Healthy” Snacks. If you’d like to see more videos on this topic, head to my Youtube channel or Instagram.
What’s your experience been with school food? What changes do you think are needed? Share with me in the comments so I can support you.