It’s Back to School Season.
With the kids going back to school this is a wonderful time organize your pantry and your grocery shopping routine. The goal is to make sure you have all you need to feed them healthy meals and keep their bodies fueled for success.
Studies have shown that kids who are well-nourished do better academically in school. Kids who are malnourished tend to struggle with school in every way, from missing classes to repeating grade levels. Doesn’t it seem wise to give your children the best chance to be healthy in order to succeed in school?
You might be thinking to yourself; “But, my kids eat.” That may be true, but it’s not that your child eats, it is *what* your child eats. Your child’s nutritional needs should be front and center not only during the school year, but all year round, and having an organized and well-stocked pantry will make your job so much easier.
If organizing your pantry and fridge wasn’t on your “after summer” list take a look at a few issues that should be addressed in order to get your kids learning and performing at their peak. This will motivate you to get them organized!
Mornings are hectic. Kids are busy getting ready for school and are in a hurry to get out the door. They may just grab a toaster treat or donut on the way past the kitchen, never sitting down long enough to even have a bowl of cereal. If they do stop to have a few bites of cereal, what’s in the bowl? Most cereals and other fast breakfast foods are loaded with sugar and empty calories.
One the best things you can do for your child, with very little effort, is to make sure there is a well-balanced breakfast available each morning. A good start to the day, nutritionally speaking, can include smoothies, eggs, nuts, fruits, wraps, veggies, or anything healthy that you would eat any other time of the day. But, in the morning it’s got to be fast and easy.
The proof is in the so-called pudding when it comes to the importance of breakfast and school performance. Schools that provide breakfast for students tend to have a higher number of kids excel in their curriculum. Yes, breakfast is pretty powerful. Providing a quick but nutritious breakfast for your kids is just as important to your child’s academic success as helping them with their homework. Even if your kids have to grab their breakfast and run, make whatever they are grabbing a nutritional powerhouse.
If lunch is provided by the school, have you checked out the nutritional value? If the school lunch is not what you would call well-balanced, then be sure your child has a healthy alternative.
Here’s where you need to be on top of things. If you just hand your child lunch money, are you convinced your child will use that money to purchase healthy foods? That lunch money may be going toward fat and sugar saturated fast food or vending machine treats in the school. The school may have healthier options in the vending machine, but is your child making that choice?
The smartest choice may be to pack a lunch for your child. I know you’re thinking who’s got time to pack a lunch every day? Remember, your child’s grades and health are at stake! So, let’s make it easy as well as nutritious, shall we? Planning is the key here. Your child needs several basics for a well-balanced diet. Have a protein, vegetable, fruit, grain, and calcium of some sort in the lunch bag. It can be a turkey wrap with spinach, and a cup of fruit yogurt with granola. Even peanut butter on whole wheat bread with an apple is healthier than a bag of chips in the vending machine. Be creative and keep it simple and you’ll find ways to provide a healthy lunch.
A late afternoon snack is required to keep a kids’ energy from decreasing. Some schools provide snack time for their students. Unfortunately, many kids reach for something loaded with sugar and fat to tide them over until they can eat later.
How do you steer your child away from the vending machine? Have a small pack of snacks ready for your child to grab when their stomach starts to grumble and rumble. A handful of trail mix, some dried fruit, or even a couple whole grain crackers or nuts may be just enough to give your child an energy boost in a healthier way. If you buy snack bars, make sure you read the labels to ensure they are actually healthy. Some are sold as ‘protein bars’ but they are packed with sugar and other unhealthy ingredients.
PLAN AHEAD FOR NUTRITION
I know you are wondering how the heck you are going to pull this off. It’s quite a bit easier than you may think. Start by taking your child to the store to pick out food for their school days. You may have to steer your child away from the candy and processed junk at first. A simple, yet firm, reminder that none of that is going in their backpack may be in order. It’s time to make healthier choices, and your child needs your guidance.
Get your child involved in preparing the meals and snacks. Lay out the food and tell your child that there are basic nutritional elements that belong in each meal. Group those elements together and tell your child that they can mix and match them in any way they like just as long as they have balanced each meal.
Once you have the meals loosely laid out, get out your Ziploc bags and food containers and have fun. You can take this planning as far as you want and be as organized as you like, or prepare the meals each day as you go. The main thing is you have given your child healthy foods to build their school day around.
If you want your child to do well academically, you need to start from the inside out. Choose a well-balanced breakfast, a healthy lunch, and snacks that satisfy without all the processed sugar and other junk. Give your child all the nutrition he or she needs to feed the brain and body for a successful school year, this year and every year!
Here is to an amazing new school year!