Kids hungry to learn? Here’s what they should eat

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Whether your child is hungry to learn or not, you can bet come lunch time their stomachs will be growling.

But a kids ability to learn relies heavily on what they eat. The goal is to fuel your kids with the nutrition they need so they can concentrate in school. That means you're making sure they're getting a good source of protein and grain so they're sustaining the same amount of energy throughout the day.

Registered dietician Sarah Flessner from Spectrum Health says a lot of parents want to get out of that "sandwich routine."

Flessner suggests sitting down with your kids and make a "like" and "dislike" list for each food group. For example, maybe your kid likes hummus but doesn't like turkey. Make note of it. Remember to ask them about fruits, veggies, and grains.

Flessner says it's important to stick to whole grains when you can. You can try making a homemade Lunchable, using homemade Triscuits, low-sodium turkey and cheddar cheese. If your child can't have peanuts or peanut butter at school, try sun butter, which is made with sunflower seeds. Or you could try making your own homemade trail mix with cherries sunflower seeds and raisins.

Hummus and veggies, apple sauce and yogurt with lower sugar content and whole grain popcorn are all great ideas.

Also, don't be afraid of trying new things. Heat up some whole grain mac and cheese and put it in a Thermos, or make some soup and throw in some whole grain crackers.

Here's what you should avoid: Any type of sugary, high-fat type of foods, like cupcakes or cookies.Flessner says once in a while is okay, but it shouldn't be something kids expect.

Flessner says treats once in a while is okay, but it shouldn't be something kids expect.

"When they have something with a lot of sugar and don't have other foods to balance it out -- like protein -- it is a quick rise in their blood sugar. They might get a spurt of energy,but then by afternoon they're hitting that slump and getting really tired and missing out of those learning opportunities."

When it comes to what your child is drinking, plain milk is fine, but Flessner says it's best to stick with water. If your kids don't like plain water, buy a diffuser and add in some lemon and lime. Shy away from juice boxes!

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