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“Brain Foods” for Kids

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

In this week’s Washington Post Health section, columnist Carolyn Butler wrote about brain foods and how they may (or may not) help with academic performance. Megan Barna, a dietitian at Children’s National who works closely with the Obesity Institute, spoke with the Post. In addition to the good information she provided, we wanted to include a few more of her key tips.

Don’t Skip Breakfast!

Megan says breakfast time is important for many reasons, especially because of the essential nutrients kids need. In fact, eating breakfast has been linked to improved concentration, performance, mood, attendance, and behavior.

“When kids skip breakfast, it’s really hard to make up for all the nutrients they miss,” says Megan.

Here are some tips for healthful breakfasts:

  • Try to eat a balance of whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruit, and protein. Megan recommends peanut butter or eggs as an easy way to incorporate protein into breakfast.
  • Read the cereal labels! Look for whole grains as the first ingredient, with 3 or more grams of fiber in each serving. Each serving should have no more than 12 grams of sugar. 
  • Avoid caffeine and energy drinks, especially with young children.

Include your kids in the decision making

Angela Boadu, RD, LDN/LD, also a dietitian at Children’s National, recommends including your children in the growing, shopping, and preparation of meals.

She recommends making fruit cups with your children, allowing them to pick out colorful options to add.

Having accessible, healthy snacks on hand is also important. A banana and peanut butter, cheese and apple slices, or berries and yogurt are some easy snacks.


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