By Charlotte Hilton Andersen of Redbook:
It doesn't come with any slick advertisements or cutesy cartoon
characters to sell it, but plain old H2O is one of the quickest energy
boosters out there. When kids become dehydrated, their energy plummets
and their brain gets foggy, which makes it hard to concentrate.
How to get them to drink it: Kids often don't realize when
they're dehydrated, so keep water handy and offer it often, especially
if they've been playing a lot or have been out in the sun. Skip
flavoring packets, which are often full of artificial sweeteners,
colors, and flavors. You can try adding a squeeze of lemon for flavor,
but I've found that most kids don't like any "floaties" in their water.
The trick is in the packaging-let your child pick out a fun water bottle
(they can even decorate it themselves with permanent markers) or stock
up on twisty straws and funny ice cubes. You'll be amazed at how much
water they'll drink.
Grains have been getting a bad rap lately, but whole grains are still
one of the best sources of energy we have-especially for little bodies
that are still growing. The fiber and carbohydrates in oatmeal provide a
long-lasting, consistent source of energy that can be dressed up in a
million different ways.
How to get them to eat it: Skip the pre-fab packets and cook your
own. Microwaving a serving of rolled oats won't take you any longer than
the packaged stuff, and you'll save on all the added sugars, flavors
and colors. Add some real butter (yes, it's okay now!) for satiating
fat, then cool it down by adding frozen berries (another great food for
energy). To make it fun for little ones, let them add a few sprinkles or
chocolate chips on top.
Everyone knows that protein builds strong muscles and helps keep you
full, but I've yet to meet a young child who wants to sit down with a
big steak and a bottle of horseradish. Thankfully, eggs are a clean and
easy source of protein, and with as many different ways to cook them as
there are kids, it's easy to keep them interesting.
How to get them to eat it: Scrambled eggs with cheese is
classic kid comfort food, but a boiled egg can be a fun addition to a
sack lunch (draw a funny face on it with a pen or marker!).
Many kids are surprisingly potassium deficient-a problem that
can manifest in a variety of ways, including lethargy and memory
problems. This necessary nutrient, which is also found in dried
apricots, figs, and plums, helps regulate the body's nervous and
How to get them to eat it: Thankfully, most kids already love
bananas but if your little one has an issue with the texture or taste,
try blending frozen banana chunks with yogurt and fruit for a creamy smoothie.
Research shows a link between memory, test-taking skills and,
gulp, eating fish for breakfast. While that's not typically pleasing to
little palates, the benefits are huge. The omega 3 fatty acids found in
fatty fish like wild salmon have been proven to reduce depression and
hyperactivity and increase focus and concentration. In addition, all
that high quality protein keeps kids' blood sugar (and therefore their
moods) steady while keeping them full for hours.
How to get them to eat it: Studies have shown that pregnant
women who eat fish have kids that are more likely to enjoy the taste.
Since the womb is a one-way ticket; however, the next best thing is
repetition. Try starting with something familiar like tuna melts,
then adding some canned salmon to scrambled eggs. You can also try a
milder-tasting fish like cod. Encourage kids to eat whole foods over
supplements. Sadly, goldfish crackers don't count (although they are