It’s happened to everyone – even you. You’ve finished with lunch and suddenly you’re sleepy – ready for a nap. Eyes start closing, mind stops listening and naptime starts calling. That’s fine and dandy if you’re home and inches away from your bed (with a magically empty list ‘to do’ list – as if!). But what if you’re ten years old and in school and in the middle of math class no less? What’s a kid to do? Well, first off you (the parent), need to know what’s causing this dire need for sleep and then you need to know how to fix it.
According to Dr. Oz’s site, the University of Nevada School of medicine explains “There may be many reasons you may feel tired after eating lunch. One common reason is that after a meal your blood sugar quickly rises as food is digested.” Basically you eat and your body’s reaction is to jump onto this blood sugar rollercoaster. Heading up the coaster it tells your muscles and fat cells to soak up that extra sugar. You’ve seen kids (and adults) on a sugar high – lots of energy, quick talking and quick moving. But what goes up must come down. So when the coaster is heading down, the sugar is gone, the ride is over and you’re energy is over too. We all know this phase as the sugar crash. “Meals with a large amount of simple carbohydrates (sugars and starches) tend to cause this blood sugar rise and fall to a greater extent than meals heavier in proteins or complex carbohydrates.”
Livestrong.com notes “Making time for a healthy lunch can pay off both mentally and physically. Eating in the middle of the day, several hours after breakfast, re-energizes your body…” The site suggests that for kids, lunch is even more important, “Since most kids don’t get breakfast or dinner at school and may not have any snacks until they get home, lunch is the only meal they have to power them through the day. According to ChoiceUSA.net, school lunch makes up one third to one half of a child’s nutritional intake for an entire day and is essential for helping children succeed in school as well as grow and develop successfully and healthfully.”
Now that you know why it happens and why lunch is important, here’s how to fix it. Packing some ‘stay-awake-and-learn’ lunches is as easy as you’re A, B’s and C’s:
A is for ‘a little of this, a little of that.’ Kids are notorious finger food eaters. Instead of sending a big thermos of something, consider tiny portions that make it easier to pick up and eat. A little (immunity boosting) yogurt, some (slow-burning source of energy) granola, rolled-up lean turkey (for the protein) and some carrot sticks (for the vision helper Vitamin A) make for a simple, fun and healthy lunch.
B is for Berries: Joy Bauer, a registered dietician suggests memory and brain healthy food choices like blueberries. Blueberries (or really any berries will do) have been shown to reverse memory decline. Not just help with your memory, but also actually reverse any damage. Impressive stuff for a tiny berry, no? Dark, leafy greens like spinach; Swiss chad and kale have a ton of folic acid in them that help with your brain health and memory. Fatty fish like salmon or the plant based alternative, ground flax seed; both offer tons of Omega 3, which boosts your brain. Doubtful your kid will love some salmon at noon, but flax seed is easy to hide. Just sprinkle some on just about anything from a sandwich to a soup to a salad.
C is for colorful: Kids love color, so why not make their lunch a colorful surprise? Red peppers (more Vitamin C than an orange), green apple slices (packed with rich phyto-nutrients, yellow chicken soup (protein and renowned healing powers) and some brown rice (all that great fiber) make for a fun, festive and healthy lunch.
Lunch is an important meal in your day – giving you the energy you need to stay awake and keep going. If you’re looking for some helpful printouts on meals plans and grocery shopping lists, check out First lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move website at http://www.letsmove.gov/eat-healthy which offers a host of tools and ideas to help.