Back to School Nutrition
Often, summer break is when the children’s healthy eating plans take a vacation. So, as summer comes to an end and the school year nears, take time to refocus your efforts as a family to ensure your children’s nutrition and physical activity habits are ready for the year ahead.
- Breakfast is a very important meal for growing children. Studies show that breakfast eaters tend to have higher school attendance, less tardiness and fewer hunger-induced stomach aches in the morning. Their overall test scores are higher, they concentrate better, solve problems more easily and have better muscle coordination. So whether they eat at home or at school, be sure your children eat a nutritious breakfast every day.
- If your children’s school provides meals, take time to go over the menu with them and discuss how to build a healthful and nutritious meal they will enjoy. Make sure the choices include whole grains, vegetables, fruits and low-fat or fat-free dairy at every meal.
- If you pack your children’s lunch, take your kids grocery shopping with you and allow them to pick out healthy foods that they enjoy. Your children are much more likely to eat what you pack for them if they have picked it out themselves.
- If your children are involved in after-school activities, pack a healthy snack they can eat beforehand. Fruit or vegetable slices, 100 percent fruit juice and whole-grain crackers with low-fat cheese are healthy options that will give them the energy they need to make it to dinner.
- Regular physical activity is also vital to your children’s development. Not all children may like sports, but there are still plenty of ways they can get exercise on a daily basis at school and at home. In fact, involving the whole family is a great way to spend time together while getting the physical activity everyone needs.
Most importantly, talk to your children. Learn the foods they like. Teach them about the foods they need for their growing bodies. Find ways together to make sure they have the knowledge and ability to eat healthy and tasty foods at every meal.
Reviewed June 2013