Fueling for Back to School - Nutrition for Energy & Brainpower

posted by Jenna Walsh on Friday, August 2, 2019

The days of summer are dwindling, and the school supplies have hit the shelves. It is time to start getting in the “back-to-school” mode. Treat this new school year as a way to boost your nutrition and provide excellent “brain” food for your kids. Both parents and children can learn a few simple tips for making sure this school year successful. Focus on these four suggestions and you’ll be fueling your body to learn to your best ability.

Start with breakfast

Although all meals are important, breakfast can be a great starting point. Studies have shown that breakfast can help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, as well as give you energy for the entire day. Students that consume breakfast typically do better in school. Not a morning person? On the go options like Greek yogurt, string cheese, or a banana are excellent alternatives than going on an empty stomach. I like to stick to items that can be made ahead of time and easily microwaved. Try these two simple, yet customizable, recipes that are quick options in the morning.



Pack a healthy lunch!

Lunch does not have to be the same boring cold meat sandwich and chips. Focus on including fruits, vegetables, and a lean protein and you’ll have a nutrient packed lunch that’s sure to provide energy for the rest of the day. Include whole fruits, or individual containers of applesauce, peaches, pears, and oranges packed in 100% juice for an extra treat. Vegetables likes sliced cucumbers, red and green pepper strips, carrots, celery, or broccoli can be paired with hummus or low-fat salad dressing as a healthful alternative to chips. Be sure to pack all lunches in an insulated container and keep cold foods cold to ensure food safety.

Choose Healthy after-school snack options

Snacks can be the perfect treat to tie you over before your next meal. I remember growing up and reaching for my favorite pre-packaged brownie treat in the snack drawer after school. Regardless of the chocolatey taste, the draw for me was the convenience factor although it might not have been the most beneficial every day snack choice. Try prepping treats before the week starts and making it quick to grab something beneficial for your body. Cut up fruits or veggies in pre-portioned baggies and have readily available in the fridge. Pair it with a yogurt dip, peanut butter, or hummus and you have a protein-rich snack. Other favorites can include applesauce, whole grain crackers or pretzels, low-fat string cheese, or cottage cheese.

Enjoy Dinner as a family

Sitting down as a family at dinner can provide an opportunity to share the day’s experiences with one another. Not only does it help build relationships, meals prepared at home can be more nutritious. Depending on the age of your child, they can help with certain tasks. Smaller children can help set the table or pour drinks, while older children can help with meal prep. Take turns making everyone’s favorite dish, but be sure to add in new foods to try as a family.

The foods we choose daily can impact our overall mentality and health. Be sure to start this school year off on a good foot and fuel it right. If you’re not already doing some of these tips, start with one goal to focus on for a couple weeks before moving to a second goal. Small changes can add up over time to result in long-term success.  



About The Author

Jenna Walsh

Jenna Walsh is one of Spencer Hospital’s Registered Dietitian Nutritionists. She graduated from Iowa State University and completed her dietetic internship at various locations throughout northwest Iowa, including Spencer Hospital. She currently works as an outpatient dietitian providing in ... read more