In this second blog post on the theme of preparing to learn we will discuss the importance of proper nutrition as a vital support to the learning process.
Proper nutrition is complex and varies depending upon age, activity level, food allergies and personal choices. I am not going to tell you what foods to eat, how to prepare them or what to avoid. Instead I am going to encourage you to learn about your child’s nutritional needs so that you can ensure they are being met every day. Nutrition as a foundation for learning is a well researched topic that has led to school meal programs, school gardening projects and in-class nutrition education. A well fed brain is a brain ready to take in new information and process it for long term learning.
It is well documented that the brain needs lots of vitamins, nutrients, and specific fats in order to function well. It is important that every brain is nourished in all the ways it can be, but vitally important for brains which are being asked to learn all day long. This is true for all school aged children, whether they are learning in a traditional classroom setting, being homeschooled, tutored, or are learning in different ways.
Maintaining a healthy diet can ensure that the mechanisms involved in processing new information and storing memories are functioning at their highest capacity. As well, a balanced diet can help your child feel energized and able to moderate their mood and navigate any social or personal challenges they may encounter in a school environment. School, tutoring, and homework can all feel overwhelming and downright impossible to someone who’s brain isn’t being properly fed. A child might experience mood swings, feel tired or overstimulated, and act out more if their brains and bodies aren’t receiving the foods they need to support growth and development.
Providing those in your care with a nutrient rich diet also sets them up for a lifetime of success, and may help their brains to stay healthy as they age. There is abundant research showing that what we eat can impact our chances of developing Alzheimer, Dementia, and other debilitating diseases which affect the aging brain.
There is no one size fits all solution to nutrition: the foods which nourish one child might make another violently ill, one family might thrive on a diet based largely around locally sourced fish and other animal-based proteins while another family is healthy and happy consuming a completely vegan diet. Because of this, it is important that every family does their own research to find a diet that is healthy, enjoyable, and realistic for their lifestyle and financial situation.
In discussing the importance of nutrition I want to acknowledge that not all families have equal access to nutritional resources and writing a blog extolling the virtues of a balanced diet risks ignoring this issue. Providing our children with optimal nutrition is a privileged position that as a community and society we should always be seeking to provide to all our citizens. As parents and guardians we can support our children to the best of our ability with the resources we have available and this blog is meant to help with that task. See the local food resources section at the bottom of the blog for assistance with accessing ingredients and meals in the the Nelson area.
Local food resources
- Nelson Food Cupboard
- Harvest Rescue
- Nelson Food Cupboard Garden Project
- Our Daily Bread – hot lunch program
- Nelson Salvation Army Meal Programs