We’ve all heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” But did you know that what you eat can affect how well you learn?
A healthy diet is vital to a student’s academic achievement. Unfortunately, many students in the United States do not have access to nutritious foods, and this could impact their performance in class. Help close the achievement gap created by poor or inadequate nutrition by educating students and their families about the importance of a healthy diet and recommending resources that help students gain access to healthy foods.
Research suggests that low income students acquire academic skills at a slower rate than their more affluent peers. This disparity is caused in part by higher stress levels, home environments, and financial difficulties. Another major contributing factor is poorer health and well-being due to inadequate diet.
Recent studies also indicate that nutrition impacts cognitive skills, behavior, and health — all factors that affect academic performance. Additionally, children without access to proper nutrition early in life can have slower cognitive development, and diets high in trans and saturated fats can have a negative effect on learning and memory. We also know that a healthy diet can improve cognitive ability, energy levels, and concentration.
Healthy eating habits start at home, so it’s important to get the whole family involved when teaching students about nutrition. With some fun, family-friendly activities, you can educate students and their families about the importance of healthy eating.
Host events around nutrition. Engage parents by asking them what types of nutrition-related information they are interested in. Schedule a family night and have students prepare healthy snacks or a nutritious meal to serve while you discuss those topics. Or, reach out to parents in the restaurant industry and invite them to share about their work.
Keep in mind that many students might not have access to nutritious foods. Share these resources with those students and their families to help them get the support they need.
A healthy diet is important for students’ health and well-being as well as their ability to learn. Teaching students about good nutrition will set a foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating habits. Educators can take steps to improve students’ nutrition by educating them on how to follow a healthy diet. Getting parents involved is a key part of the process, along with helping families access the support that’s available to them.
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