Brain Food: How Good Nutrition Leads to Good Education

Brain Food: How Good Nutrition Leads to Good Education

November 19th, 2013

Nutrition and EducationWith Thanksgiving just around the corner, there’s at least one thing that’s on both yours and your students’ minds: food. Food and family meals are the cornerstone of American culture, and home-cooked meals are synonymous with the holidays. Now, assuming that your November lesson plans are already set to focus on Thanksgiving, it’s history, and traditions, take this time to use the holiday as a teachable moment about food and nutrition.

The importance of good nutrition is no stranger to the American public school system. First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative addresses the importance of the physical and emotional health of our students, combating issues of childhood obesity and poor nutrition from inside the classrooms and cafeterias. While these issues are most definitely of national concern, education initiatives addressing school nutrition are also important because of the connection between students’ physical and mental health. Tom Segal addresses this important connection in his article The Role of Health and Wellness in the Classroom, explaining that students’ “social wellness” (physical, social, and emotional health) is “…as pertinent to a child’s education and potential for success as access to computers and team sports.”

You Are What You Eat

Not only is teaching nutrition important in combating childhood obesity, but helping your students understand good nutrition builds a foundation for healthy learning. Colloquially referred to as “brain food,” imposing proper nutrition on your children and students promotes healthy brain function and overall development. There’s truth to your parents annoying you to eat your breakfast; starting off your morning with healthy food promotes increased brain activity, and in turn, academic success. But healthy learning doesn’t have to only be in the cafeteria. Healthy Brain for Life offers resources and suggestions for how teachers can promote healthy learning in the classroom:

  • Stay hydrated. Have students keep a water bottle at their desk or take water breaks throughout the day

  • Healthy snacks. Encourage students to bring healthy treats for classroom celebrations, including fruit, whole-grain cracks, and veggies/dip

  • Healthy choices. Teach students how to choose the healthiest available foods on restaurant and fast-food menus.

  • Advocate change. Be aware of your district’s wellness policy, and contribute/obtain for change within your school and/or classroom

  • Teach change. Be sure to incorporate nutrition education into your curriculum across content areas.

Classroom Resources

Related Video: Bill Nye the Science Guy-It’s the Food Web


  1. Van Whaley says:

    What an excellent blog, with applicable information
    for students of all ages! I am a college
    biology professor, and many of my lectures are based on the fact that body function
    is influenced by our body’s fuel. What
    we eat, and when we eat it, influences our ability to focus, understand new
    concepts, and our emotional state. And yes, just like mom said, eating breakfast
    helps a student do better in school.

    In the blog, you mention First Lady Obama’s focus on
    childhood obesity and poor health habits.
    I commend her, and you, for bringing attention to this important
    demographic. We must continue to teach
    children about the importance of nutrition and making healthy lifestyle choices.

    As a father, I make sure that my daughter eats
    SOMETHING every morning. While she does
    not always select the fresh fruit or healthiest choice, she never goes to
    school without breakfast. I follow this advice too! I understand that I need quality “brain food”
    to perform my best; however I am conscious of another effect from my eating habits: my daughter watches me. I eat well to be a good example for her.

  2. Sana says:

    Great post. Nutritious diet is as important for students as is a peaceful sleep. It not only makes them physically strong, but it adds to their mental and emotional fitness.

    Dear kids, please make sure to take your meals regularly 🙂

    Owner of

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