It happens to everyone once in a while: you missed breakfast or skipped lunch and in a few hours you are feeling it. You may be distracted by hunger, unable to concentrate, or even feeling grouchy.
Kids experience the same symptoms from skipping meals, and it can affect their behavior. In fact, school breakfast programs have been proven to have a positive impact on classroom performance and behavior, particularly for kids who are not getting the nutrition they need.1 Certain children that are significantly below normal height and weight may experience Failure to Thrive, a condition with common symptoms including delayed mental and social, as well as physical, skills.
In a study of school-aged children, more than two-thirds of kids who were food insecure experienced a decrease in emotional and behavioral problems after 6 months of a school breakfast program.2
Ways to help
One way to help your child choose healthy foods is to eat healthy, regular meals yourself. Kids will want to mimic what they see you do. Having a well-balanced diet and eating regular meals can help prevent that distracted, grumpy feeling and provide kids with a strong start to their day. PediaSure can provide kids with a nutritious snack on days when parents are crunched for time or the day hasn’t gone as planned.
Being physically active helps kids feel better in more ways than you may think. Kids who are physically active have better brain function and tend to do better in school than kids who aren’t.3 A balanced diet that contains all the food groups will help ensure your child has the strong muscles, healthy bones, and energy to lead an active life.
Ways to help
The body gets the calories it needs for energy from 3 nutrients – carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Carbohydrates calories are the simplest form of readily available energy. As long as there is not an excess of carbohydrate foods, this energy is burned as fuel and is not converted into fat. Sources of complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables with the skin left on provide fiber that the body digests more slowly and therefore are the best choices for kids and adults.
Protein-rich foods are broken down into amino acids that are used by the muscles for growth. Unsaturated fats (also called healthy fats) are a necessary part of a healthy diet. When protein, carbohydrates, and fat are consumed together, digestion is slowed and energy is provided over a longer period of time. PediaSure Shakes contain a scientifically-balanced blend of these 3 nutrients, providing energy to help your kids be physically active.
Good nutrition is important for cognitive development. Emerging science shows that many nutrients are needed for healthy brain function. DHA affects cognition and visual development, B vitamins help with the creation of neurotransmitters, vitamin E protects membranes in the brain, and vitamin D helps prevent neurodegenerative diseases.4 It’s a balance of many important nutrients working together that contributes to a healthy brain. PediaSure Grow & Gain Shakes are a source of all these nutrients that support cognitive development and brain growth.
Ways to help
Providing your child with a balanced and varied diet, including many different nutrients such as vitamin D, vitamin C, Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), and B vitamins, can help give them a healthy start as their brain continues to develop.
DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that is one of the healthy fats and main nutrients needed for brain health. It’s the most prominent fatty acid in the brain, and since the body does not produce enough on its own, kids need to consume it in the diet to meet the body’s needs. We can get DHA from foods such as salmon, tuna, and omega-3 enriched eggs.
In today’s world of fast food and overall poor eating habits, kids can develop a negative relationship with food early in life. However, parents have more influence over their kids’ attitudes toward food than they may realize. It’s common for parents to try to make sure their children are getting the nutrients they need by requiring a ‘clean plate’ at the end of a meal, or forcing kids to eat things they don’t like. While this is often done with good intentions, it can lead to the child having negative feelings about mealtime and healthy foods.
A responsive feeding approach has been shown to be much more effective in terms of healthy nutrient intake.5 By following the cues of a child to indicate hunger and fullness, parents can avoid mealtime turning into a fight. Children decide whether and how much to eat from what is offered. The key is for parents to offer a variety of foods with a scheduled meal and snack pattern full of the nutrients kids need.
Ways to help
One of the best things you can do to improve the emotional health of your children concerning nutrition is to instill positive attitudes about food. It has been proven that parents have a definite influence on their kids’ relationship with food later in life,6 but modeling the behavior we want for our children is not always easy. Adults have their own habits and attitudes toward food that can impact their children. You can set a positive example for kids at mealtime by serving nutrient-rich foods, allowing kids to make decisions about what they eat (and even if they eat), and eating normal-sized portions of food yourself.
It may surprise you to know that between 70-80% of your immune system is located in the digestive system. A balanced diet helps fuel the immune system by providing necessary nutrients so the digestive system can function properly.
Ways to help
Fiber plays an important role in supporting a healthy digestive system by helping to keep the system clean and running smoothly. There are 2 types of fiber. Soluble fiber absorbs water and slows digestion while feeding the good bacteria in the gut. It is found in foods such as oatmeal, nuts, beans, and some fruits and vegetables. Insoluble fiber helps stool pass quickly through the digestive tract by adding bulk, or “roughage”, found in whole grains and vegetables. These 2 types of fiber work together in the digestive tract to support immune health.
PediaSure Grow & Gain with Fiber contains nutrients, prebiotics, and fiber kids need to encourage healthy digestion and a strong immune system.
Emerging science shows a strong link between nutrition and academic performance. Recent reviews of school breakfast programs in the United States confirm the benefits of breakfast for classroom performance, school attendance, and behavior, especially for children who may be food insecure.1 A report in 2012 concluded that 89% of teachers asked had observed that eating breakfast at school had improved kids’ ability to concentrate.7
Nutrients that can help
Providing a well-balanced breakfast with many different nutrients can help give your child a strong start to the school day. Not only can a good breakfast help them stay focused in school, but also lead to improved academic performance.1 If the school schedules a morning snack, try PediaSure Shakes with Complete, Balanced Nutrition, with 25 vitamins and minerals, as a nutritious choice.
1. Basch CE. Breakfast and the achievement gap among urban minority youth. J Sch Health. 2011;81(10):635-640.
2. Kleinman RE, et al. Diet, breakfast, and academic performance in children. Ann Nutr Metab. 2002;46(suppl 1):24-30.
3. http://iom.nationalacademies.org/Reports/2013/Educating-the-Student-Body-Taking-Physical-Activity-and-Physical-Education-to-School.aspx. Accessed 11/30/15.
4. Bourre JM. Effects of Nutrients (in Food) on the Structure and Function of the Nervous System: Update on the Dietary Requirements for Brain. Part 1: Micronutrients. J Nutr Health Aging. 2006 Sep-Oct;10(5):377-85.
5. Engle PL, Pelto GH. Responsive feeding: Implications for policy and program implementation. J Nutr. 2011;141(3): 508-511.
6. Branen L, Fletcher J. Comparison of college students’ current eating habits and recollections of their childhood food practices. J Nutr Educ. 1999;31:304-310.
7. Hayes D, et al. Proceedings of the Learning Connection Summit. Nutrition Today. 2014;49(1):18-25.