Back to School Nutrition
This week I was in Boston and met with some of the staff and leadership at the Lexington Waldorf School. All three of my children were enrolled there before we moved to Vermont and I have very fond memories of the amazing teachers, children and parents of the organization. I owe them a debt of gratitude for how they shaped my three children into amazing young adults!
Twelve years ago when I started Farmers To You, one of our first pickup sites was the Waldorf School in both Lexington and Beverly. We were welcomed with open arms. Often I get asked, why would a school welcome a commercial enterprise to set up at their campus? Well, the answer is rather simple. The philosophy of Waldorf education is that we must involve children’s hearts and desires, their intellect, and their whole bodies in their education to impart wisdom. In connecting with the school community we supported the families’ and childrens’ health, and I recall many conversations with teachers over the years who asked good questions and shared stories about the critical role nutrition plays in their students’ learning and development.
Here are some of the thoughts I have shared with teachers over the years:
A good sit down breakfast with minimal sugar and carbohydrates and lots of protein and healthy fats will prepare a child for a calm and attentive morning of learning. Healthy, simple fats provide slow burning energy that is essential for children.
Snacks should be avoided because they are mostly high in carbohydrates and sugars. If meals are balanced and delivered calmly with patience, you will immediately notice a difference in your child’s attentiveness, patience, and resiliency. You will also notice that they are not “starving” at 10:00 and 2:00 due to a high carbohydrate diet! A good transitional strategy is to provide protein- and fat-based snacks rather than high carb snacks. This is especially important for the lunches you pack for school. See if you can find a “treat” that is low on sugar and carbs, and if it happens to be homemade–even better!
Let’s talk about vegetables! I literally cannot count the number of times a parent has approached me to tell me that their child will not eat anything green. In one particularly amusing case, we were sampling pea tendrils—the tender young leaves and shoots of the pea plant—at the school pick up site. As one parent tried to convince me of her child’s aversion to greens, her child was devouring the pea tendrils. We all—his mother too—got a real laugh out of this. What I said to her is that most of the vegetables at the supermarket are grown with chemicals and poor soil, and sweetness and flavor cannot develop without healthy soil practices. Most adults who are used to supermarket foods have lost the ability to taste the subtle and important flavonoids in foods. Children still can, and we can regain it by cleaning up the foods we eat. Remember that flavor is a marker for nutrition. Picky eaters are telling us something. Pickiness may signal an issue with the food rather than the child.
As the school year begins, let us help you prepare your children to get the most out of their education. By feeding them clean and farm fresh foods, they will be ready to absorb all there is to know!