It is easy for parents to be good nutrition role models during family meals, but a child's food choices at school may be entirely up to the child. Parents can help children make smart choices by fueling kids with a quality breakfast, packing healthy lunches and snacks, and teaching young ones to make beneficial choices.
Parents do not have to act alone in encouraging healthy habits at school. Many schools have developed wellness policies to encourage good nutrition practices—and some extend their initiatives beyond the school to families. Programs that put registered dietitians in the classroom with students, like the RD Nutrition Coaches in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' Energy Balance 4 Kids (EB4K) —formerly Healthy School Partnership—pilot program, have seen measurable improvements in children's food behaviors and have successfully reinforced that healthy eating is a lifelong journey.
Research shows breaking an overnight fast with a balanced meal can make a major difference in overall health and well-being, especially for children and teens.
Eating a smart breakfast can help improve behavior and school performance, as well as foster a healthy weight. On the other hand, skipping breakfast is a no-brainer, quite literally. When children skip breakfast, their brains and bodies suffer all day long. Get your kids started on the nutrition fast track to a high-energy, health-smart day.
Breakfast is often called the most important meal of the day, but lunch also plays a critical role in children’s overall health and school performance. When children skip lunch, they are likely to have trouble concentrating in the classroom, lack energy for sports and overeat on low-nutrient, after-school snacks.
Whether children eat lunch at home, enjoy a school-provided lunch (made even better after implementation of new school nutrition guidelines), or pack a lunch box, the goal is a nutrient-rich meal to fuel their brains and bodies for the afternoon. The trick is providing a lunch that packs a nutritional punch and appeals to your child.
Naturally nutrient-rich and mostly fat-free, fruit and veggie snacks help children close critical nutrient gaps without adding extra calories. For children and adults alike, eating more fruit and vegetable snacks is one of the smartest food moves you can make. Find out how to stock your house with healthy snacks.
Reviewed December 2012