Thanks for tuning in today! Young people are back in school, so Jason and Chef talked about foods for a nourishing lunch to help students concentrate and keep their energy levels up. Also key is avoiding certain foods to minimize energy crashes, mood swings and fogginess. Whether a student buys their lunch from school or brings it from home, these suggestions will help make their school experience the best it can be.

Foods to avoid – Foods high in sugar and processed carbohydrates, aka "fast" carbohydrates, like white bread, crackers, processed fruit snacks, juice, and even most granola bars, put kids on an energy roller coaster and leave them hungry and struggling to pay attention in class. Foods to eat – Nutrient-dense foods that provide energy to last through the long school day. Slow carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats in every meal will help your kids stay alert and focused.

  • Protein rich foods like low-sodium deli meats, hard-cooked eggs, turkey sticks, cheese, yogurt, milk and bean dips like hummus, are great examples.
  • Healthy fats like nuts (if your school’s peanut/tree nut policy allows) and seeds, avocados/guacamole, and dairy products pack well for lunch.
  • Slow carbohydrates. These are fiber dense, and minimally processed so they not only have the necessary fiber to keep one's energy and mood stable, but they will also have the vital vitamins, minerals and nutrients often missing in fast carbohydrate foods.

Some things to consider:

  • Get a lunch box, or even a Bento box– Bento boxes have separate food storage compartments, making it easy to pack nourishing lunches that are fun to eat. Fill the compartments with a healthy protein, veggies, fruit and whole grains – a balanced lunch has never been easier!
  • Plan Lunches Together – Involve your child in the planning so you – and they – know you are packing a nourishing lunch they will want to eat.
  • Make it Varied and Fun – Avoid burn out by rotating the lunch you send and presenting it in creative ways. Use cookie cutters to cut sandwiches or cheese into fun shapes. Include a note from home. The possibilities are endless!

Learn more about how food affects children's behavior here.