Is School Breakfast Contributing to Low Achievement, Lack of Focus and Out of Control Behavior Leading to Diagnoses and Meds?
Breakfast at public school seems like a great idea. Saves time and parents can get kids off to school faster and get to work faster as well. Home breakfast with family, while I believe is the best way, is a thing of the past in exchange for the state deciding what the kids eat. Very different than the old days right? Another thing that is really different than the old days is the level of kids being diagnosed with debilitating, disruptive disorders and ending up on medications.
I remember a day when my kids got home from school and they were upset because other kids were getting this really cool breakfast in school and they wanted it. You see, our breakfasts at home consisted of a lot of good protein, some good Omega 3 fat and a lesser amount of grains. and only non GMO oat based whole grain. I did this because through all of my reading, I realized that kids do better when they have some good fat and good protein on board along with longer lasting carbs that were not corn or soy based. Less distractibiltiy, less off task behavior, better concentration and focus and better mood. All of it went into enjoying school more and doing better at it.
So I decided to go into a school breakfast menu online to see what the hub bub was about and what the kids were so jealous of. When I saw it, I had to wonder if there might be a connection between all of the out of control behavior, lower learning and multiple diagnoses these days and what these kids were being fed by their schools. I was horrified. Here is an example of 2 days of breakfast provided by a public school which shall remain nameless:
Day 1: FROSTED FLAKES, Chocolate Elf Grahams, Apple Juice.
Day 2: RICE KRISPIES, Cinnamon Breakfast Square, Blended Fruit Juice.
Well no wonder the kids wanted this so badly. All the things that I would never buy them for breakfast. Sugar, sugar and more sugar.
So let me share with you some of the teacher complaints that are reported to me in my practice and then let's think for a moment about how these things might be connected. Here are the top 4: Not paying attention, off task behavior, lack of energy or interest in learning, and not remembering what was taught.
From "This is your brain on sugar: UCLA study shows high-fructose diet sabotages learning, memory" by Elaine Schmidt, "Our findings illustrate that what you eat affects how you think," said Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a professor of integrative biology and physiology in the UCLA College of Letters and Science. "Eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain's ability to learn and remember information. But adding omega-3 fatty acids to your meals can help minimize the damage."
From Dr. Sears "While studies show that activity levels go up in both hyperactive and normal children on high- sugar diets, the hyperactive children also become more aggressive. Adding protein to a high- sugar meal mellows out the behavioral and learning deterioration. Chalk up another point for eating a balanced breakfast.
Sugar promotes cravings. The more sugar you eat, the more sugar you want. A high sugar meal raises the blood glucose level, which triggers the outpouring of insulin. This excess insulin lingers in the system, triggering a craving for more sugar, thus adding another hill to the roller coaster ride."
Don't get me wrong here as I do not believe this needs government intervention, although, i do find it interesting that those in high places these days are promoting a mostly whole grain carb diet for kids in school complete with not fermented soy, not soaked bean and many GMO corn fed products. I think if we want to address those teacher complaints, a completely different direction should be taken. High protein, high Omega 3 and some whole grain from Oat would create a better situation and although I know it can be tough, I'd like to see it happen at home not just from a diet perspective, but from a family togetherness perspective.
So when I see a breakfast menu like that, I can't help but wonder why educated people would not notice the connection between the high sugar and carb content in these breakfasts being fed to kids at school and the explosion in diagnoses and disorders being attached to too many kids. I believe the labels are connected. What do you think?
Dr. Sherri Singer is a Processing and Motivation Skills Excellence Coach who works with you in person, 1 on 1, live via webcam.Contact Dr. Sherri