Good health, nutrition, mental health and fitness, add up to a healthy child with an increased potential of doing well in school.

Experts say that children who eat right tend to score better on tests, have better school attendance and have fewer classroom behavior problems.

Fruit“As you eat, so shall you think,” says LeAnn Nickelsen, M. Ed., a Learning Specialist, Certified Educator, Administrator, & Brain Research Trainer who travels across the U.S. speaking to educators and parents.

To function at its best, the brain needs nutritious food, as well as lots of water, exercise and a good night’s sleep. And a healthy breakfast is key, according to Dr. Nickelsen. Research has shown students skipping breakfast have a shorter attention span and become impulsive.

Adding urgency to the importance of good nutrition, as well as exercise, is the fact that the number of overweight children has about doubled over the past decade, and related diseases like Type II diabetes, normally seen only in adults, are being seen in children.

So how do you plan nutritious meals? A good place to start is ChooseMyPlate.gov which uses a place setting for a meal to demonstrate the five food groups—and portions–that should be included. You’ll also find a variety of other tools and tips to make it easier to eat healthier.

Resources

Choose My Plate’s website illustrates the five food groups that are the building blocks for a healthy diet using a familiar image—a place setting for a meal. It also provides tools such as the Super Tracker that can help you plan, analyze and track your diet and physical activity. You also can look up individual foods to see or compare their nutritional values. It is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Eat right, sponsored by The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association), is a comprehensive website that features diet reviews, tools to determine BMI, tips, recipes and the latest in food and nutrition information. There also are games and quizzes to make nutrition fun.

KidsHealth is the largest and most-visited site on the Web providing doctor-approved health information about children from before birth through adolescence. Created by The Nemours Foundation’s Center for Children’s Health Media, the award-winning KidsHealth provides families with accurate, up-to-date, and jargon-free health and wellness information.

Produce for Kids is a website focused on teaching parents AND children about the healthy benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables. The section for parents includes valuable resources including nutritional tips, activities and recipes. For example, learn which fruits and vegetables best benefit a child’s brain, as well as body, and should be included in the lunchbox.

The World’s Healthiest Foods focuses on the benefits of healthy eating and how foods affect how you feel, how much energy you have and the length and quality of your life. Sponsored by the George Mateljan Foundation for the World’s Healthiest Foods, the site includes recipes, menus and articles about the benefits of various foods.