LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) – Getting kids off to school can be hectic, but starting the day off with the right foods and packing a nutritious lunch is not just to fill their stomachs - it will help power their brains! Dietician Amie Buffalo-Benoit from Lake Charles Memorial Hospital says a well-balanced breakfast is very important for school-aged children.
"If you eat junk, you're going to feel like junk, you're going to think like junk, and you're going to perform like junk! If you start your day off by skipping that first meal, you're sort of setting yourself up for failure," explained Buffalo-Benoit.
For a healthy alternative to sugary cereals or fatty breakfast meats, Buffalo-Benoit suggests using an egg white plus one regular egg to cut down on the fat and cholesterol found in the yolk. She says people eat with their eyes first, so keeping one regular egg will give them the yellow color and taste many enjoy. When lunch time rolls around, she says pack it ahead of time to prevent your child from buying unhealthy foods that may be offered in the cafeteria.
"If a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich is not your child's thing, I recommend a lean meat like a chicken breast, turkey breast even roast beef or ham as opposed to something like bologna. You can fill that in with some low fat or fat free cheese, dress it up with a little mustard and serve it on some whole grain bread," said Buffalo-Benoit.
Watch out for what Buffalo-Benoit calls 'fake foods' like soda.
"It has sugar and what's the sugar doing for you other than giving you calories? It's not doing anything else for you," explained Buffalo-Benoit.
She recommends you always check labels not just for calorie counts, but for ingredients as well. She says to pay close attention to juice labels, which can add artificial ingredients to the product. She says make sure the first or second ingredient is pure fruit juice.
After school many children could use a snack, and if your children wants ice cream, Buffalo-Benoit says let them have it.
"It's not really fair to tell them they can never have jellybeans or they can never have fruit roll ups or they can never have Cheetos. We just have to allow them to have it, but just make it in more strict moderation."
Clearing out the pantry of sweets and chips is not necessary, she says just serve these foods in small portions and buy the reduced fat, baked or lower sugar versions if available.
If you find yourself or your child getting more and more forgetful, try adding more eggs and nuts which have Choline that can boost memory. Buffalo-Benoit also says kids vary in the amount of calories they need, so check with their doctor for accurate amounts. She says younger children generally require only 1,000 to 1,200 calories daily, while 11 and 12-year-olds need 2,000 per day.