Snacks in the Classroom
Background Information—what the brain needs
In order to function optimally in learning and retrieving information, the brain needs at least six major requirements:
- Water: for passage of electrical impulses
- Iron: carry oxygen to brain
- Oxygen and good circulation: provide nutrients to the brain
- Glucose: fuel
- Optimum thyroid function: support all body functions
- Building blocks for neurotransmitters: to send messages between brain and body. To ensure good health of mind and body, a food plan should be in place that includes these items per day: 2 fruits, 3 vegetables, 2 low-fat milk products, 2 or more whole-grain products, 4-6 ounces of protein, and 1-2 servings of mega-3 fats.
Snacks and drinks in the classroom
- Water only please. The body needs water to dissolve vitamins and minerals, and to carry nutrients into the cells. When the body doesn’t get enough water many symptoms occur such as mental confusion and fatigue. Drinking enough water is one of the first ways to improve the performance of the brain. Students may bring water bottles with lids to keep on their desk, but it must be filled with water only. Water bottles should go home every night to be washed to avoid intake of bacteria.
- Snacks—individualized and healthy. There are a number of healthy snacks our students can bring to school: seeds or nuts, fresh fruit, raw vegetables, crackers, or healthy prepackaged products. Any product that a student brings for a snack should not have any type of chocolate ingredient, and should be low in salt/sodium. The key word here is “individualized” portions. A sandwich baggie is usually the correct size. It is important to remember that a snack is not a meal. For hygiene reasons students should not share their food. Whether the student hands out some of their food, or allows another student to reach into their bag, the bacterium is transferred from one student to another. After snack time, students will be asked to dispose of their trash, and put any leftover snack in their book bags. Snacks should not be stored in lockers over time for many reasons – spoilage, draws pests, etc. Snack time is after specials and at 2:00; students are expected to automatically get their snack at the appropriate time.
A final Comment
- Eat Breakfast! When you don’t eat breakfast, your blood sugar stays low, so your brain doesn’t have energy for thinking and learning. Then you tend to eat carbohydrates for lunch to get quick fuel. A high carbohydrate lunch leads to a midafternoon low and a hunger for sugar. The calorie deficit and increase in hunger from not eating breakfast leads to both gorging and late evening snacking. When you snack in the evening, you aren’t hungry for breakfast, so the roller coaster cycle repeats. Also, high carbohydrate breakfast – sugary breakfast such as donut, sweet rolls, is quickly converted into glucose which produces high blood sugar. When blood sugar is high, you can become sleepy and lethargic, unable to pay close attention or remember what you’re doing.
(Feed Your Brain for Learning, by Sandy Baumann, M.S.)