For moms and dads across the country, what is often a busy summer schedule gets even more hectic as the kids head back to school. New clothes, school supplies, homework, team sports; you name it, there’s always something vying for your time. And often what suffers is what is among the most important: nutrition.
A few weeks back we did an article on the importance of exercise for kids. What your kids are eating is no less vital. As time starts slipping away and you’re poised to give in to the demands of your schedule, remember that eating high-nutrition foods is important for their energy, growth, development and optimal learning.
Here are a few tips that will makes things easier and keep your child’s food choices top of mind.
Eat Breakfast Everyday
Sounds simple, right? But it’s amazing how many times kids are late for the bus or you’re rushed for work and this important meal is skipped. Some things to keep in mind:
- Eating protein at breakfast every day will keep kids from becoming hungry before lunch.
- Eating breakfast powers the brain for the day ahead.
- Add in a serving of fruit for added fiber and energy.
- Drinking 2 glasses of low fat milk per day is proven to strengthen bones. Have kids drink 1 with their breakfast.
Whether they have their lunch tucked away in a snappy new lunchbox or they’re forking over some cash for what’s on the menu in the cafeteria, make sure children:
- Add at least 5 servings of vegetables and fruits to supply their body with vitamins and minerals. Lunch is a great time to add them.
- Eat low-fat protein: chicken, fish, pork, low fat cheese, and lean beef.
- Skip the chips and eat pretzels, bread, or crackers.
Eat Healthy Snacks
The occasional cookie, chip or sweet is fine, but there are much healthier snacks that taste just as good:
- Granola bars
- All-natural fruit rolls
- Veggie sticks or apples with peanut butter
- Low-fat cheese sticks and crackers
- Low-fat yogurt
It’s tough when everyone is busy, but that’s when a little forethought is most valuable.
- Pack their lunch the night before.
- If you don’t have time to make dinner, use a slow cooker. Prepare the meal the night before and just plug in before school. You will have dinner ready when you get home.
- Limit eating fast food to once a week.
- Keep your refrigerator stocked so you can cook meals.
There’s no question it’s tough to eat well and stay on top of nutrition when things are moving a mile a minute. But your kids’ bodies will thank you for it if you do.
Susan Drake, M.S., R.D., contributed to this article.