Nutrition and School Performance: Does it Really Matter?

Back to school season can be a struggle for many parents. Trying to make sure that our kids get healthy meals and snacks throughout the day can seem almost overwhelming. Why is it so important? Well, what our kids are taking into their bodies has a direct effect on their school performance. Studies show that kids who eat a balanced breakfast have higher test scores and can concentrate better and solve problems more easily in class. They can also have fewer behavioral problems. A hungry child can be a cranky child. So, what can we do to make sure our kids are getting what they need?

For starters, avoid feeding kids a breakfast low in fiber and protein, like sugary toaster pastries, sugar laden cereals, etc. I know these are easy to fix but it doesn’t do the body any good. These can lead to a midmorning energy crash. This happens when the carbs are digested and absorbed quickly, causing blood sugar levels to dive after a spike. Kids can also get headaches and cranky. Make sure you provide your children with a high-protein, high-fiber meal like eggs with whole wheat toast. This kind of meal digests more slowly, preventing hunger and keeping blood sugar levels even. This goes for adults as well. I can always tell when I’ve eaten a breakfast too high in carbs. I’m crashing by midmorning. Not a pretty site.

Here are some true but sad facts:

  • American children ages 2-18 are eating 40% of their daily calories from “empty calories,” like
    sugar sweetened beverages and desserts.
  • 92% of girls ages 9-18 do not get enough calcium from what they eat and drink.
  • 75% of children 6-19 do not eat enough fruit every day.
  • Only 13.8% of high school students eat enough vegetables every day.
  • 65% of high school students skipped breakfast at least one day a week.

We as parents can make some simple changes to ensure that our kids are getting the nutrients they need to succeed in school. When you plan your weekly meal plan, go ahead and include plans for breakfast, lunches and snacks. It doesn’t take much longer and you’ll know have a game plan. If you need help, there are online menu planning services that can help you plan your breakfast, lunch and dinner menus.

Tell us some of your favorite healthy breakfast, lunch or snack ideas you make for your kids. We’d love to hear about them!

Published on: September 03, 2013
About the Author
Photo of Lisa Holcomb

Lisa is co-founder of Build A Menu, an online menu planning website that helps families get their grocery bill under control and helps them to bring “dinner back to the table”. She is an advocate for family meal time, an author, and a public speaker.

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Recent Comments

Our kids eat oatmeal with a variation of nuts and fruit for breakfast. since they could eat i used to puree it with tofu or yogurt and even add spinach on mornings after a poor supper the night before. they are very used to it now and prefer it. i know it may not last forever but after reading your feeding baby greene book as iwas pregnant with no 1 i realize how setting their pallets really works. friends who fed their kids only foods kids wanted, to date have problems, we talk about nutrition and explain where food comes from ongoingly, because it actually a fun topic for all. we garden and share our spoils with fruends, extending that joy. i feel pretty fortunate when my kids rejoice for fresh vegetables or salmon sashimi at a dinner out. i always tell them “good for you babe for making a good choice to fuel your body” and they feel empowered visibly. we dont avoid the occasional sinful treat or a birthday party supper, after which we observe how our body feels not that great.

lunches and snacks are easy buuuut since school start i am baffled how the schoo will teach sex ed to kindergarteners but not discuss nutrition. how meal times are crammed into a grownups life of a coffee break and not supervised to correct the unfortunate kids from making fun ofvthe healthy eaters because they are not educated at home. i visit my daughter at school and know when she was given time toneatvand when not. we talked about kids making fun of her love for olives while they ate their crackers and i pick her up for picnic lunches with me and her little brother when she is not 100%. because it helps. so all you parents researching, get ahead now! educate your kid to care for its health. noone else will.


We are so glad that you are giving your children the gift of loving great food. It will really put them on track for a lifetime of health!

Thanks so much for sharing,

Best, @MsGreene
Note: I am the co-founder of, but I am not Dr. Greene and I am not a doctor. Please keep that in mind when reading my comments and replies.