Feed Your Kids These 5 Foods to Boost Focus + Attention

Confining a child’s enthusiastic curiosity and lush imagination into the rigidity of a school day can be a real challenge.  Wholesome breakfasts are one of the best ways to support a child’s efforts to align with school standards and expectations.  Sweetened, processed foods take kids’ blood sugar levels on a roller coaster ride that manifests in erratic outbursts followed by cranky lethargy.  Skipping breakfast withholds the brain of the energy it needs to engage and participate – but the good news is there are many foods to boost focus and attention.  The five real foods below will steady blood sugar, balance hormones and support overall brain function, resulting in better focus and attention for an antsy kindergartener, an over-scheduled adult, and everyone in between.

1. Eggs

With cholesterol’s undeserved bad rap cleared up, eggs have reclaimed their rightful place at the table.  Eggs are a good source of protein, which stabilizes blood sugar, and zinc, which can improve attentiveness.  Their high dose of Vitamin B6 is important for the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is involved in controlling motivation and attention.  Rest easy and attentive, and put some eggs on your plate.

2. Turkey

Imagining Thanksgiving may induce a thought-process like, “turkey → tryptohan → food coma.” While tryptophan is a precursor for melatonin (the neurotransmitter involved in sleep cycles) it is first used to make serotonin.  A proper balance of serotonin and dopamine is needed for proper cognitive functioning and behavior.  All poultry contains roughly the same amount of tryptophan.  If you don’t eat meat?  Chia, sesame, and flax seeds, spirulina, cashews, pistachios, and almonds are all great sources of tryptophan too!

3. Spinach

Popeye’s muscles were so big, in part, because all that spinach was keeping him highly motivated for his work outs.  Spinach is one of the best plant sources of iron, and iron helps to metabolize dopamine, which we learned above is important for motivation and attention.  Spinach also packs a one-two punch of vitamin B6 and magnesium to reduce hyperactivity and aggressiveness and increase attention.  For a double helping of attention, add some spinach to your plate.

4. Pumpkin Seeds

They get less love on grocery store shelves than almonds and walnuts, but pumpkin seeds deserve your attention, and will help you have attention to give!  Pumpkin seeds add more protein, zinc, iron and magnesium power to the foods we’ve already covered.  Plus, they contain brain-supporting omega-3 fatty acids.  Not just a post-Jack-o-lantern treat, pop some pumpkin seeds for a neurological pick-me-up.

5. Red Peppers + Flax Oil

Yes, this is actually two foods, but it’s the pairing that’s important.  Research shows that combining flax oil with Vitamin C (that’s where the red peppers come in) can calm hyperactivity.  You can achieve this same synergy with kiwi, limes, grapefruit, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and yes, oranges.

To get all this nutrient power into the same bite, try these egg-emojis. Kids will enjoy their playfulness and adults will appreciate their healthy ingredients and delicious flavour.  Everyone benefits from the calm and focused morning that follows, and the best part is this recipe does it all with a smile.

Watch this video to learn how to make a piping bag with parchment paper so that you can do pipe your sauce plastic-free! The Smiley Sauce makes more than you need for this recipe, but the extras will keep for 4-5 days in the fridge. Repurpose it as a dip, spread for sandwiches, or salad dressing – it pairs well with fresh veg for a healthy lunchbox snack.