Children and school buses have started roaming the neighborhood; I can’t believe we’re already back to school. No matter the age of the student, those of us in nutrition and education know that what fuels brain power is food! This means healthful meals, but maybe more importantly, healthful snacks throughout the day. All of us, but especially children and adolescents who are growing – yes, this includes college students – need to eat regularly to maintain proper blood sugar levels, aka energy, and essential nutrients that power the brain and body. Think about it this way: The body (and especially the brain) is generally like the engine of a car. The engine parts are proteins, fat is the oil that allows the parts to function together, and carbohydrates are the fuel that drives the engine. Just like the parts of an engine rely on each other, protein, fat, and carbohydrate work together for optimal performance.
Eating whole foods, those that are minimally processed and naturally contain essential nutrients, every 2-3 hours is likely the best strategy to meet nutrient needs. This means snacks and packing extra food into a backpack are musts, rather than relying on schools to provide snacks. Remember that nutrients in the body work synergistically, so combine items that contain a variety of nutrients: Consider fresh fruit plus nuts, seeds, single-serve items such as cheese or pretzels, or low sugar granola bars. Happy snacking equals happy studying!