Utne Response # 3 (I think)

greenspun.com : LUSENET : MEd Cohort III : One Thread

Utne Review by Valerie Tanner/Cohort III

Somer, Elizabeth. Snacks for Brainiacs: How a Trip to the Fridge Can Sharpen Your Mind. Utne Reader, Nov-Dec. 98.

Snacks for Brainiacs is an article that reminds the reader of how our intake of nutrition affects the brain. Somer recognizes the fact that most people realize this but don't understand how quickly food affects brain function. Somer supports that fact that skipping meals is a big mistake, but continues with how these specific nutrients affect the brain. For example, when it comes to breakfast, the body is low on glucose, because we haven't eaten since the evening before. Glucose is the sole source of fuel for the brain therefore keeping glucose at optimal levels enhances learning, memory, and thinking.

Somer continues with other nutrients that are important to the brain. These include iron, boron, and zinc. She is also quick to add that caffeine, though not a nutrient, can increase reaction time and alertness, unless used excessively. She wraps up her article by discussing calorie intake and exercise and their relationship to brain function.

I found Somer's article to be refreshing. Not only did it reiterate the importance of nutrition but was more in-depth about specific nutrients and how they affect brain. It was refreshing because it discussed these in easily readable and understandable language. It would also be a great article to use in the classroom setting.

As an educator I am glad we now have the free and reduced lunch and breakfast programs in the schools. The school I worked at before had free breakfast and lunch for all students. This was funded through a government program. I believe this is important for our children as many come from low-income families. This is also helpful for families who are not at home in the morning to help their children get ready for school or who are not capable as parents to see their child's breakfast needs are met. I have worked with children who come to school Monday morning and devour three bowls of cereal before they are able to continue on in a relaxed manner with their toast and milk. This is a sad situation but it exists throughout the state and nation. At least when their meals are met they are somewhat more able to concentrate on their learning at school.

-- Anonymous, March 05, 1999


This is in response to Valerie Tanner's Utne article 3 (I think). This seemed to be a good article to reflect on. I see the benefits also, as I work within the same type of a system. I see a very high out put of students who eat breakfast at the school. I feel not only is there a nutritional issue but also a self-esteem issue also. Because everyone eats breakfast at the school, there isn't anyone around to make different comments about receiving free and reduced lunches. This may seem like a minor issue, but in a public school where students know who has more money becuase of of the "color of lunch tickets", it becomes a self esteem issue. So I feel there is more than one benefit involved with including nutrition for the brain, but also self esteem for the sole. Providing breakfast can only benefit students.

-- Anonymous, March 14, 1999

Hi Valerie, I agree with your observations for the most part, but I have a question I would like to throw out. Do we really need to play the different colored lunch ticket game? It is more than just a self esteem issue, we end up stereotyping. How about a uniform card like the "U card"? No one needs to know what category you are then. I'd be interested in any other thoughts you might have. Thanks! John Hansen

-- Anonymous, March 27, 1999

I think it is a shame that schools have to provide breakfast for children, but if it's the only way students will arrive in the classroom ready to learn, I guess it's necessary. At least the children are getting a decent meal compared to what they might be grabbing for themselves at home. It angers me when I witness the food that is thrown away at lunch time. Many children will eat the chips and the sweets and throw the rest away. Junk food is just too available and acceptable these days. In the classroom we try to stress that only the child himself has control over what he puts into his body. Mom or dad aren't always there anymore to make the decision for them. I think I'll try using the terms in the article - that their brains need "glucose, iron, boron, and zinc for fuel. Maybe with a different approach it'll make an impact on the students. Thanks for the info - Sondra Dolentz

-- Anonymous, June 15, 1999

Moderation questions? read the FAQ