Fruits + Veggies – Sugary Processed Foods = Better Grades, Better Behavior

By: Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

Pop-tarts for breakfast? No thanks! It’s time to start sending kids off to school with healthy choices, like smoothies and juices. Whenever I start juicing or blending up smoothies my boys (ages 8 and 3) come over to help.  They love the loud noise, inevitable mess and of course the tasty drinks.  They aren’t afraid to let me know which ingredients they like best and which juices or smoothies aren’t their favorites. Two of my favorite tricks are adding spinach and avocado to fruit based smoothies.  While I’m not afraid to tell them what they’re drinking, they have no idea the greens are there unless we make it together.

My oldest son has been a student in 2 different public school systems – one urban and one affluent suburban.  While the school lunch menu has improved in our state, beverage choices remain poor in my opinion.  In both school systems, the only choices for a drink at lunch are white milk, chocolate milk or 100% packaged juice.  Where’s the water???

A scary statistic shows that only 10-14% of children and teens are only consuming two fruits/vegetables per day in some states.  An even scarier number – 12.5 million – is the amount of children in America who are faced with childhood obesity.

It’s important to encourage more plant foods in our kids’ diets. Not only might it help improve their health, but it may also improve their grades and concentration in school.  One study in Florida found that school children receiving a healthy eating intervention had significantly higher math scores and better reading scores.  The Better Food, Better Behavior study also found that by providing fresh, healthy foods to students, grades are up and behavior is better with zero students dropping out or misbehaving in extreme manners.

Go ahead and start increasing your child’s nutrients with juices! It is innovative, fun, interactive, easy to do, and it is a highly efficient way to drastically boost nutrient intake.  From a nutrition standpoint, one glass of juice can provide on average 4 servings of fruits and vegetables and a greater dose of phytonutrients including antioxidants and other immune supportive compounds as compared with the commercial juice that many kids are drinking.

Fresh juice is a vehicle for providing vegetables in a fashion that tastes good and is visually appealing.  It is something that can appeal to a younger generation especially when introduced in the context of a movie, like Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead and when moms and dads are demonstrating healthy eating in their everyday life.

Have you noticed your kids eating more fruits and vegetables during your Reboot?

*It’s important to note that while including fresh juice as part of a balanced diet can be healthy for children and teens, a Reboot is not advised.  Adding more vegetables and fruits to meals and snacks is the way to go. If you think your child or teen could benefit from a Reboot please speak with their pediatrician first.

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Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

Stacy is a Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and an Integrative Nutritionist. She consults for various companies, focusing on health, wellness and innovative strategies to help increase individual’s fruit and vegetable intake. Stacy is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Health Fitness Specialist; she holds a BS degree in Dietetics from Indiana University, completed her dietetic internship at Massachusetts General Hospital, and earned a Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a Senior Clinical Nutritionist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School teaching affiliates, in Boston, MA, with more than 20 years of experience. Stacy created and now serves as project manager and lead writer for nutrition services content on the Dana Farber website and the affiliated, nationally recognized nutrition app. Stacy is regularly featured on TV, radio, print and social media on behalf of Dana Farber and other organizations. Together with her husband, Dr. Russell Kennedy PsyD, they have a private practice, Wellness Guides, LLC. Stacy is an adjunct professor in Wellness and Health Coaching at William James College, currently teaching a graduate course in Health Coaching. Stacy is featured in the award winning documentary films, “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” and “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2,” and serves on the Reboot with Joe Medical Advisory Board. Stacy lives in Wellesley with her husband, two sons and three dogs. She enjoys cooking, yoga, hiking and spending time with friends and family. Stacy is also one of the nutritionists who runs our Guided Reboot programs.

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