John Cardinal O’Connor School

16 North Broadway 10533 Irvington, NY
Phone: 914-591-9330
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Diet and Nutrition’s Impact on Learning for Children with Learning Disabilities

January 18th, 2017 by admin

If you are what you eat, as the old adage says, then getting the best possible nutrition every day is key to not only feeling your best, but being your best. Science has shown that eating the right foods impacts the brain and the body, and its ability to function properly, while other research has shown a correlation between eating and behavior. While this is not news to any parent who has witnessed their child after having too many sweets, this information should be of particular interest to parents of children with learning disabilities.

Children with learning disabilities already struggle with their ability to store and process information. When their brain is not getting the proper nutrients, it just makes an already difficult situation more difficult. Research suggests that eating well can more than improve health; it can aid in improving behavioral issues and perhaps improve the ability to learn. According to David E. Barrett, a Harvard medical school psychologist, a healthy diet also has long-lasting effects on a child’s ability to interact with other children and adults.


Here are three things you need to know about nutrition and learning to help your child with a learning disability:


  1. Junk Food Is Not Food – Eating junk food and processed foods will not only add pounds, it can alter the way you feel and impact your mood. For children with learning disabilities, additives like artificial colors and flavors, preservatives, sugar, and caffeine can worsen behaviors, increase hyperactive behaviors, and decrease focus.
  2. A Food-Allergy Connection – Research has suggested that in a small study of children with learning disabilities, hyperactivity, and emotional inattentiveness, 52% exhibited an allergy to a food. Like a most allergies, symptoms include fatigue, slow thought process, and nervousness, which can exacerbate learning disabilities and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). While any food can cause an allergic reaction, wheat, dairy products, eggs, shellfish, and nuts are some of the most common, if you suspect a food allergy.
  3. Eating Right – The body needs vitamins, minerals, and proteins to stay healthy and operate at its peak. Getting the right mix and getting your child to eat it can be challenging.  Stick to the basics and implement the food pyramid, offering 3 servings of of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit a day—like berries, which are naturally sweet and high in calcium and potassium—and use fats and sweets sparingly.  Offer two servings of meat, like chicken which is rich in protein and low in fat. Experiment with recipes that are child friendly, and even consider having your child help you cook so they can feel involved in the process.

Learning Disability

Eating right may not be solve all the learning difficulties your child has, but it can help them to meet their potential, which is the same goal that we at The John Cardinal O’Connor School located in Irvington, New York have for our students. We are a private school that offers certified special education teachers and small class size.  JCOS offers students a full academic curriculum modified to meet their individual needs.

We know that there is more to students than their learning disability, so call us today at 914-591-9330 to learn more about how we can help you and your child be successful.