On January 25, 2012, ABC News reported on a Los Angeles school district making huge strides toward improving the nutrition of their school lunches, just as First Lady Michelle Obama starts in on her new healthy eating initiative for American schools.
The Los Angeles Unified School District has been acknowledged by the first lady as one of the healthiest school districts in the country, and district officials from LAUSD are also standing by Mrs. Obama’s move for change in the quality of food served at schools. Changing their cafeteria menus has been a positive change for the district. What we’ve got is a lot more fresh fruits and vegetables that we’re using,” said LAUSD food services deputy director David Binkle.
Mrs. Obama’s plan marks the first time in 15 years that the nation has made efforts to improve school lunches nationwide, and the LAUSD is setting a great example, especially by seeking out and serving local produce. “Sixty percent of our produce is coming from within 200 miles of downtown Los Angeles,” said Binkle.
Within the next several years, teachers across the country will have to help their students transition to healthier eating habits at school. While they may miss the pizza and fries, it is now more important than even to promote and teach about healthy eating. Natural food is essential, not only to your overall health, but to the quality of your brain function and work in class. Here are some brain-boosting essentials for students of all ages.
Never let your students slack on drinking water. Our brains are made up of 80 percent water, and cannot function properly without it. Water is the fundamental building block of our cells. Your students probably aren’t conscious of how much water they are drinking, but an adult body loses around 10 to 12 cups of water every day. So kids need to drink a little less than that to stay hydrated. Try taking more frequent breaks to go to the water fountain, and make sure to stop to let your kids take a drink before and after physical activity, like gym or recess.
2. Teas and Fresh-Squeezed Juice
Tea is a great way for your students to get the water they need, without the monotony of 8 plains cups of water every day. Some teas also help brain function and overall body health. Green tea is light enough for kids and can be mixed with a bit of honey to improve the taste. Green tea is loaded with antioxidants, catechins, and vitamins C and A. Kids also love juices, and there is nothing better than fresh-squeezed juice. Try finding a used juicer and having your kids take turns bringing in bags of fruits or veggies. Or simply talk to your students about the difference between juice that is from concentrate and juice that is not from concentrate (juice from concentrate is highly packed with sugar, while squeezed juice retains the natural sugar and fiber you would get from eating a piece of fruit).
3. Fruits and Vegetables
Eating fruits and vegetables is the best way to keep your body healthy. Make learning about fruits and vegetables a fun thing in your classroom, and eat more fruits and veggies yourself to give your kids an example. You can choose absolutely any fruit or vegetable, and it will have benefits for brain function, but the best way to get all the nutrients you need is to eat as many different colors as possible. The best brain foods are blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, bananas, oranges, broccoli, tomatoes and spinach.
If you’re going to have any sort of snacks available for your students in your classroom, try keeping some nuts on hand along with a few apples and oranges. Nuts are great sources of protein, and eating them with fruit makes a balances snack. Nuts like sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts, cashews and walnuts have minerals and vitamins that boost brain function.
5. Whole Grains
Whole grains are the final component to a balanced diet, and it’s great to teach your students about the difference between processed and refined grains, like white flour, and whole grains, like oatmeal and whole grain flours. Whole grains are rich in vitamin B and magnesium, which aid brain function. Luckily, many food makers are jumping on board and making classic kid favorites, like Goldfish crackers and Lucky Charms cereal, with whole grains.
By-line: Alvina Lopez is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: alvina.lopez @gmail.com.