If you eat better, you may do better in school, according to Dr. Eric Snow, Chiropractor and Whole Food Therapist. In this second part of the "Eat this, not that" series we are going to the cafeteria line to find out what foods will fuel a child's brain power and which get an "F."
As 11 o'clock rolls around, the lunch rooms fills at Oak Park Elementary and no surprise kids' favorite foods may not make the healthy list.
It is hamburger day, with all the fixings, but is this American classic better than a slice of pizza? Dr. Snow said hamburgers go to the top of the class.
"Somewhere around 300 [calories] and the pizza can go all the way up to 350 [calories] or more," explained Dr. Snow.
He said the tomato, pickles and lettuce add extra veggies, but the bun is not the best.
"An ounce of a bun is somewhere around 14 carbs," said Dr. Snow.
He recommends taking off the top and having an open-faced burger instead.
Moving down the line, kids pick up their side dishes. In the battle of tater tots v. green beans, it turns out tots are not good for tots.
"Anytime you fry something in high heat you get a lot of free radicals. A free radical is kind of a scavenger that attacks your cells," said Dr. Snow.
He adds beans have a wealth of nutrients like protein, carbohydrates and fiber.
Lastly, students grab a drink to wash it all down. Fruit juice sounds healthy, but could cause a serious sugar spike.
"You're better off eating an apple than apple juice. You're better off eating an orange than orange juice," said Dr. Snow.
Fructose sugar in juice can spell a sugar crash that afternoon so he suggests cutting it.
"3 ounces of real 100 percent juice to about 3 oz or more of water and that keeps the sugar content down. It actually stretches your pocket book quite a bit," said Dr. Snow.
Kids can always choose old reliable: milk. Dr. Snow said whole milk will give kids more nutrients than skim. If you are between chocolate milk and juice, chocolate still gets an A+.
If you peer down in the full trash cans you can see the large amounts of uneaten, untouched food. Half the battle for a healthy student may be picky eaters. Dr. Snow suggests sneaking the good stuff into meals they already like.
"We might mix the beans in there. We might mix steamed cauliflower [with whole grain rice]," continued Dr. Snow.
He said the biggest trick to packing a lunch is preparation.
If the family is rushing around to get to school on time, "that's when we tend to go to the fast food options or the processed stuff in our cabinets," said Dr. Snow.
A healthy lunch, he said, can boost their mood and their grades.
"Your kid's going to feel better. They're not going to miss as much school and they will probably perform a little bit better at school because their energy is there, focus is there and blood sugar is not going up and down," said Dr. Snow.
His big problem with some school lunch menus: sugar.
"Counting their carbs...it gets really, really high. You're getting carbs from fruit and from the bread. You're getting carbs even from the healthier things like beans and milk. It all adds up," explained Dr. Snow.
He added beefing up the protein with turkey, chicken or beef will also help students stay full and focused.
One last tip:
Chicken nuggets are a common lunch item, but Dr. Snow said tenders are the better option. They tend to have more meat and will give students more protein, he said.