There is actually an easy way to making healthy food choices. The trick is to focus on two key ingredients that you should try to eat at every meal.

We all need two key ingredients to fuel our bodies.

Protein is one of the most important components of our diet. Do you know what protein is? Things like meat, eggs, fish, nuts (peanut butter for example), it’s what makes our muscles strong. We also need fats (you get that in peanut butter too!) and something called (ready to learn a big word?)…complex carbohydrates.

Complex carbs are vegetables, but there’s a bad kind of these carbohydrates too, and they are usually brown. They include breads, pastas, cakes, cookies, and muffins.

BRO Code Tip: If it’s brown, put it down (except nuts, those are good for you).

Bad carbohydrates or ‘simple carbohydrates’ are the same as sugar. Sugar causes a fast spike in energy, and then a crash.

Do a fast run in place, then slump your body and drag your legs.

It’s like when an airplane is flying through the sky, runs out of gas and plummets to the ground. We will talk more about sugar in a few minutes.
Without a combination of protein and complex carbohydrates, we won’t have the fuel we need to run and play.

Why does this work?

Well, humans actually evolved over millions of years eating only protein and complex carbohydrates.  Our bodies are built to fuel on these foods. Check out Pet Degree’s Infographic on the Paleo Diet if you want to learn how to eat like a caveman.

What choices do we have?

Here are some examples of how you pick out the proteins and complex carbs:

3 good choices, one not.

  • Eggs with veges: Good combination for your personal rocket fuel. Awesome way to start the day.
  • Protein shake: This comes in a powder (we will send home a good one for your parents to see). Mix it with a little fruit and even some vegetables and you are blasting off for the day!
  • Waffle with peanut butter and cinnamon: A waffle alone isn’t the best, however when you add the peanut butter and cinnamon it makes it a decent way to hit the starting line. This may not be the best choice, it still works.
  • Cereal: Even the “healthy” cereals are not the best choice. This doesn’t give you fuel, it will actually make you sleepy when you get to school and not help you learn when you get there. It makes school harder. Do you want to make school harder or easier?

2 good, one not so good.

  • Turkey or chicken sandwich: Not on white bread, that’s the same as sugar and that’s bad for you. Add peas and blueberries to get protein, good carbs (remember that big word from earlier?) and a tasty finish.
  • Salad with chicken: Vegetables are some of the best fuel you can have! Remember the Jedi and super heroes? They eat a TON of these! What’s your favorite dressing? (don’t get into dressings, this will be in their take home info on Friday)
  • Toasted Cheese sandwich – Bread is a bad fuel, it’s the kind that makes you run out of gas. (Ever see a car on the side of the road that has run out of gas, or a race car run out on the track? Have you ever felt like you just don’t have energy to play?) Unless your cheese was made from milk that came direct from a cow (non-pasteurized) our body doesn’t absorb the good stuff from it. If it says “cheese food” or “cheese like”, it’s fake and made from chemicals.

2-1/2 good, one not

  • Carrot Sticks: Great fuel for you. This is the good kind of carb. Add some hummus for a great balance.
  • Nuts: Peanuts, almonds, cashews. Whole or mashed up like peanut butter.
  • Fruit: Ok for you. Still don’t want to eat much, only if you are going out to play very soon after.
  • Candy: Candy tastes great. However it doesn’t help your brain and it will make you run out of gas.

2 good, 2 not

  • Small salad, baked chicken, veges: Perfect! Put a good healthy dressing or marinade (with out added sugar) and chow away!
  • Spaghetti with red sauce: Remember what we talked about before? If it’s brown, put it down. If you really want some spaghetti, add meat and veges to the sauce and eat more of that then the noodles. Try Spaghetti squash instead.
  • Mac & Cheese: Although it’s yellow, it’s the same as brown, Tastes great, won’t give you the fuel to keep going. If you really, really want to have some, eat some chicken and veges with it.
  • Vegetable stir fry with Chicken: Yum! Add your favorite sauce (marinade, without sugar added) and feast away!

Tough one, one good choice, two not great.

  • Biggest question: Did you eat your salad and lots of veges today? If so, have a small Ice cream (sometimes you might have to order the baby size at the ice cream stand because even the small is too big!) It’s not the best, but once a week, or less is ok.
  • Cookies/Brownies: Not that good for you. If you haven’t done your homework yet, eat these and your brain won’t work as well. It makes remembering your spelling words or math facts for the test very hard. Also, it may not let you have a good night’s sleep.
  • Fruit: Better than Brownies and cookies, but not the best. (Moms and Dads, if you’re trying to lose weight or your child weighs a little more than they should, avoid fruit. The sugar in fruit it treated by our body the same way as the sugar in a cookie. “Natural” sugar (in fruits) doesn’t make a difference)

Only one good

  • Gatorade: NOT a good choice. As sold on the shelves, it doesn’t help you hydrate because it has too much sugar, the bad sugar. It will make you fall asleep in class and cranky. You may not even have fun when you’re playing. The only time Gatorade helps hydrate is when you are exercising at a fairly intense rate (soccer, football, lacrosse) and watered down 50/50 with water. Even the professionals don’t drink Gatorade full strength during their games.
  • Pop: TOO MUCH SUGAR. It will make you fat and won’t help your brain work well. I know, it tastes good, but it’s not good at all for you. It gives you a sugar crash.
  • Water: What makes up most of our earth? Water. Did you know our bodies are mostly water too? Every organism on earth needs water to survive and so do we. Make it rain inside your body. We have things like plants and animals inside, they’re called cells, and they must have water to turn the food you eat into fuel.

So remember BROs, look for protein and complex carbohydrates when making healthy food choices.