Back to School Nutrition
School is in session! That means it’s time to regroup eating habits and meal planning into a healthy, nutritious routine for kids and the whole family. With school and after-school schedules sure to be packed, it’s more important than ever to plan meals and snacks ahead of time to make sure healthy options are available and everyone gets a decent breakfast, lunch, or snack in their belly.
Set a good example for your kids and eat breakfast. Studies show that kids who skip breakfast are tardy and absent from school more often than children who eat breakfast on a regular basis. Kids’ growing bodies and developing brains rely heavily on the regular intake of food and when kids skip breakfast, they can end up going for many hours without food, and this period of semistarvation can create a lot of physical, intellectual, and behavioral problems for them.
- It’s quick and easy to cook eggs and toast in the morning. Have hard boiled eggs already cooked up and in the fridge for days when you are really in a rush.
- Oatmeal, especially if you soak it overnight, cooks up in minutes, and topped with a little maple syrup, nuts, and fresh fruit, is a great way to start the day. Here’s one recipe for soaked oatmeal.
- Processed cereals are not the best choice. Breakfast cereals, even organic brands, are highly processed and often contain lots of sugar. Why not cook whole grains instead like rice or millet (cook ahead and heat leftovers). Here’s a delicious breakfast rice pudding recipe.
- Yogurt with fruit and nuts appeals to many kids.
These are just a few ideas. Ask your kids what they like.
If you want to make sure your kids are eating right at school, take the time to plan and pack their lunches. Ask them what 5 things they would like to see in their lunch box. If they help plan their lunch, they will be less likely to toss or trade it at lunch time. They could even make their own lunch if they are old enough.
Pack a nice variety of items, like cut up fruit, cut up dipping veggies and a tasty dip, something crunchy/salty like nuts or spelt pretzels, and something sweet like yogurt or a homemade oatmeal cookie (or store bought organic). Here is a link to some ideas for great lunchbox sandwiches.
Stock a drawer full of snacks at kid level. Fill it with granola bars, fruit leather, single serving applesauce, crackers packed into individual serving containers, nuts, seaweed snacks, pretzels, dried fruit, or anything else that’s healthy, and convenient, and doesn’t need refrigeration. Make it easy for kids to grab something healthy.
Have cheese or veggies already cut up in the fridge. Avoid buying junkier snacks like potato chips, candy, donuts, etc. so no one will even be tempted in the first place. Here some great snack recipes if you want to make snacks from scratch.