The excitement of the new school year has officially hit! Yellow buses packed with eager learners are back on the road, parents have spent the last few weeks buying their children school supplies to set them up for a successful school year, and athletes are meeting on the field for fall sports. As a sports dietitian for the student-athletes at the University of Georgia, I think this is one of the most exciting times of the year. Good nutrition is a tool that can help students excel in the classroom. Research has shown that students who eat throughout the day have improved school performance and enhanced mood.
Here are three tips I share with my student-athletes to help them stay fueled and focused in the classroom and on the field.
#1 MAKE BREAKFAST A HABIT: We have all heard the adage, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” It turns out there is some substance to this statement. Studies show the students who eat breakfast have improved test grades, school attendance, and mood. If your kids don’t have time to sit down to eat breakfast, try an on-the-go option such as a parfait with yogurt, fruit, and granola, or two slices of toast topped with peanut butter and a banana.
#2 HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE: Research shows that dehydration makes it difficult to concentrate and inhibits short-term memory. Students can combat dehydration by always having a water bottle in their book bag and sipping on it throughout the day. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children consume low-fat/nonfat milk and water to satisfy their fluid requirements.
#3 SNACK SMART: It is important to snack in between meals to prevent hunger and keep focused. Choose snacks that contain protein which leave you full and satisfied. String cheese, nuts/trail mix, and yogurt are all excellent options to keep in your kid’s lunch bag and for them to munch on in between classes.
Following these three tips will help you start your day and school year off right!
Maria Williams, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a sports nutritionist for the University of Georgia Athletic Association. She is a certified specialist in sports dietetics. In her position she coordinates nutrition and meal planning with the UGA student-athletes.