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Four Ingredient Nutrition Swap: 4 Foods to Avoid and 4 Foods to Boost in

January is a popular month to evaluate food choices. Many families resolve to eat healthier but can easily lose focus without a plan. The following guide provides a simple approach to choosing healthier ingredients for a boost in nutrition in the new year. 

- Holly Larson, RD 

Four Foods to Avoid


  • Artificial Dyes Artificial food dyes are used to make foods more appealing to children - they do not make a food healthier and they may impact your child’s behavior. Plant based dyes are colorful, fun and available at your local health food store.
  • Trans-fats Trans-fats are created in foods to make them shelf-stable. Whole foods spoil! Trans-fats negatively impact both the heart and the brain and are found in processed foods.  If you see the word hydrogenated in the ingredient list, put that package back on the shelf.
  • Added sugar Sugar is everywhere! Our taste buds acclimate to the sugars that we are used to. The less we have, the less we crave. Check the ingredients to sleuth out added sugars.
  • Sports Drinks Sports drinks are overused. Unless your child is exercising for more than an hour or sweats heavily, water is sufficient for their sports practices and games. If they will be exercising intensely for more than an hour, unsweetened coconut water with a splash of 100% juice and a pinch of salt is a tasty, effective DIY sports drink.

Four Foods to Boost


  • Herbs and Spices Not only do herbs and spices add flavor to our foods, they make meals more satisfying without needing salt and sugar. Plus, herbs and spices boost the power of our meals. The same compounds that give herbs and spices their flavor have their own health super powers. Cinnamon can contribute to blood sugar control and garlic can support a healthy heart.
  • Nuts and seeds Nuts and seeds offer protein, healthy fats and are chock-full of vitamins and minerals. They’re packable, portable and delicious. Feel free to eat them plain, roasted with savory spices or tossed with a touch of honey and cinnamon for a sweet treat.
  • Fish Fish is packed with brain-boosting fats and lean protein. Fish can be prepared many different ways. If a filet of fish isn’t your family’s favorite, try meatballs made from salmon, cold shrimp dunked in a dip or a white fish cut into sticks, dunked in a crispy coating and baked. There are many different ways to enjoy fish. We recommend using the Seafood Watch site to choose sustainable fish while also minimizing  exposure to heavy metals.
  • Frozen Fruits and Vegetables Did you know that frozen fruits and vegetables are just as healthy as fresh, are packaged at the peak of ripeness and are budget friendly? Take advantage of the freezer section to not only save you time but also money. Colorful blends are beautiful on your dinner plate and offer a wide range of phytochemicals.

About The Balance 360 Clean Eating Nutrition System

The Balance 360 Nutrition System is our proprietary nutritional plan.

The Balance 360 nutrition system is a crucial part of each student’s program. Our proprietary nutrition program is designed to be self-guided, with valuable support from the Brain Balance team of Nutrition Coaches. Balance 360 supports each child’s progress by nourishing their brain and body with healthy food and removing foods that may be causing behavior or focus issues.

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