Educators in one Iowa school noticed a change in student behavior—a change for the better. They believe this improvement could be due to a new snack program introduced at the beginning of the school year, one that provided protein-based snacks, such as hard-boiled eggs, yogurt and cheese to students visiting the school nurse. This pilot program was dubbed the Protein Intervention project, and it yielded surprising results.
Schools often serve snacks to student populations who are food insecure. Yet the type of snacks schools typically offer, such as crackers, granola bars or fruit snacks, while inexpensive and shelf-stable, are high on the glycemic index scale. These snacks exacerbate students’ blood sugar fluctuations and can contribute to challenging behaviors.
At the beginning of the 2015/2016 school year, the school launched a pilot project to test a hypothesis that protein-based snacks could help improve classroom behavior. Protein-based snacks were substituted for the carbohydrate snacks typically given to students visiting the school nurse. Records were kept of the students’ visit, snack choice, date and time. While students were allowed to choose from among the protein-based snacks available, the majority selected hard-boiled eggs.
When staff tabulated data relating protein snack consumption to behavioral referrals, the results were striking. Data showed that only 11.5 percent of these students’ behavioral referrals occurred on days when they received the protein intervention. The other 88.5 percent of these students’ behavioral referrals occurred on days when they did not visit the nurse and request protein.
Granted, this was only a small test...but the results are intriguing and worth further research. READ more details on The Protein Intervention.