Back to school already? Nutrition tips for better learning

Back to school already? Nutrition tips for better learning



Parents are rejoicing and kids are crying as the beginning of the new school year is just around the corner. Be sure to enjoy your family time together as the summer draws to a close. But this is a good time to start thinking about back to school. Specifically, how to feed your children for success.

It has often been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day for children. What gets lost in this idea is the ‘quality’ of the breakfast. The ever so common cereals with high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, and artificial flavors, don’t set a child up for a brainpower day. It can actually make them crash physically and emotionally. A good alternative would be some fruit, eggs, and a slice of whole grain, gluten free toast. Of course, this will take more time to prepare than a bowl of cereal, but well worth the effort. If time is an issue, perhaps limit the cereal days to only 2 or three times per week.

Lunch is quite the wildcard! Many schools offer lunch options, but most are highly processed and carbohydrate rich foods. The ‘tasty’ items the kids will eat, not necessarily the ones that are the most nutrient dense. Now having said that, I have a number of patients that work in the public-school nutrition programs. There is a trend within the last few years towards offering healthier options. The challenge becomes that if kids don’t eat the healthier foods, they get thrown out and taken off the menu. Thus, healthy eating begins at home. Children that are exposed to healthier food options at home, tend to eat healthier at school.

The obvious alternative to school lunches would be packing your own. Here again there are heathy and not-so healthy options. Lunches that are pre-packaged with the crackers, meat and treats are convenient, but don’t possess much in the way of nutrition. Take a moment next time you are in the store and read the ingredient list on these items. It can be scary! Frankly, if you can’t pronounce the name of the ingredient or if it has more than 3 syllables, it probably isn’t food.

Decades ago, dinner was the typical meal that families ate together. Today, with everyone’s busy schedule it is quite the challenge! I encourage you to work to eat together as often as possible. A big key here it to minimize unhealthy carbs and fats. Stick with lots of veggies and some proteins. Just like breakfast and lunch, quality is important.

A great resource in evaluating your food intake is the Environmental Working Group. On the website you can find helpful guide called the “Clean 15 & Dirty Dozen.” Basically, this lists the toxicity load of conventional vs. organic foods. This is especially helpful if you are transitioning to a healthier way of eating but reconciling this with your budget.

A non-nutritional area one can give attention to is the nervous system. In addition to being in charge of digestion, a properly working nervous system helps the body focus and concentrate better. This of course leads to doing better in school. Over the last 30 plus years in practice, I have worked with thousands of children that have benefited with chiropractic care. In the remaining weeks before school, this would be a great time to have your child’s spine checked!


Dr. Dan Miller has been serving the Beaverton area since 1992. He has long held the belief that good health begins before birth. For more information, visit his website at: