Back to School “Daze”

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Take my word for it! The school ‘daze’ is an epidemic. I’ve been a teacher for 20 years, and whether my classroom was children, teens or adults, the school ‘daze’ is very real. Daze by definition is haze, unable to think or react properly, confusion, trance or stupor. Certainly there can be various explanations – and I’m here to talk to you about one. One that I hope you take seriously.

This ‘school daze’ is a serious problem, but it is in fact, only a symptom of a much more significant problem. Let’s take a closer look at the typical routine of students in the western cultures.

Children get up early, rush around getting dressed and gathering their ‘things’ for school. They might have cereal or toast, but more than likely their breakfast consists of grains and sugars – that is IF they EVEN eat breakfast! They get to school amped up a quick rush of sugar and interactions with friends. When the bell rings it all stops. Dead stop. Quiet. Sit still. No talking. Stop swinging your feet. Stop tapping your pencil. Pay attention. Very soon into the first hour of class, the ‘false energy’ of their morning sugar is gone. They are left in the ‘school daze’.

Tweens and teens – Oh my! I know – I used to be one, I’ve raised two and taught hundreds. Now I’m not speaking about the exceptions, I’m talking about the norm. Poor diets made up mostly of fast foods and sugar filled beverages. Lifestyle isn’t nearly active enough, and typically, a serious lack of sleep. Emotions and hormones are running high while their bodies are running on low. The stresses of relationships, performance and future planning are intense. School begins too early and the days end way too late. They come to school tired, their caffeine and sugar morning crashes before 10am. Lunch is served at school or quickly purchased off campus. Unhealthy food gulped too fast and washed down with more sugar and caffeine. Halfway through their first ‘after lunch’ class, they’re nodding off or left behind in the ‘school daze’ and unfortunately, some are actually sleeping.

Adults. Well, you can already see your own unhealthy habits woven into these stories. Fast sugar energy means fast hard sugar crash. You’re exhausted. You can’t keep your eyes open. You must have caffeine and sugar! And the cycle begins all over again.

Here’s why and here’s what you can do about it:

Let’s first define sugar. Sugar is sugar to your body. In this conversation, your body doesn’t know the difference between the sources of sugar. It can be candy, sweets, grains and everything made from grains: breads, bagels, pastas, alcoholic beverages, sodas. It’s all sugar to your body. A simple explanation of your body’s response: When you eat sugar, your body releases the hormone insulin. Insulin regulates our blood sugar. Our oxygen level drops a bit. Insulin also triggers the action of tryptophan which releases serotonin. Our digestive system requires more blood for digestion, leaving our extremities ‘out in the cold’ for a bit. If it was a big meal, even our brain can get a little fuzzy during digestion.

This leaves us in a bit of a tired daze. Lower oxygen, the release of tryptophan and serotonin, blood and energy focused on digestion. Add lack of sleep and stress and we’re back to ‘school daze’.
What’s the solution? Well in a perfect world, with perfect compliance, I could give you the perfect solution. How about a realistic solution? The reason sugar is such a problem for us is threefold:

1. It’s in nearly all of our food in one form or another
2. Our bodies aren’t in a healthy enough state to handle all the sugar we eat
3. The sugar is so processed that it no longer contains minerals that would have helped our body regulate it in the first place

To address #1, the obvious solution would be to cut way down on sugars. I have to wonder if that’s a reasonable expectation of our children ~ our students ~ our society and our lifestyles. That won’t happen overnight in most cases. I will still tell you to cut way back on sugar intake first and foremost. Next, addressing #2 and #3. In order to support our bodies and have the minerals and nutrients available to our body when we need them, we have to supplement. But if our children won’t take the supplements, then we lose that solution as well. It should taste good. Be a simple delivery system and be a complete nutritional supplement. 60 minerals, 16 vitamins, 12 amino acids complete. Support the body with the nutrients it needs so that it can do its job most efficiently and this of course includes keeping our blood sugar in check! There are also a few very specific minerals and herbs that support healthy blood sugar. I would add these to the tweens, teens and adults’ diets.

To make this as simple as possible, an ‘on the go’ packet that we can all take would be a fantastic start! When you’re rushing off to work, or the kids are racing out to school, have bottles of water and a packet right there by the door. Grab and go! If you’re actually packing healthy lunches and snacks for the day (yah you!), add a packet and a bottle of water. One or two capsules for keeping blood sugar in check and you and the kids are off to a considerably healthier start!

Yes, there are always more variables, but this gives you such a fantastic leg up on supporting a healthy blood sugar system. Start simple and strong. Address the school daze now and we can build upon this more as we continue our 3 part series: Key Nutritional and Wellness Considerations for Our Nation’s Youth