Now, before we even get started, please allow us to state that we are well aware that there is still plenty of summer left to go! (Those of us that love the summertime keep telling ourselves that anyway). But you know that a back-to-school blog was going to rear its head eventually, right? To all of the parents out there who are already planning for their kids to return to school in September, this one’s for you!
You see, back-to-school planning needs to start weeks in advance. In order to adequately prepare your child for that first day of school, you need to shop for clothing, books, supplies and other necessities so that your children are all ready to go when the big day comes. One of the things, however, that we often forget to think about is back-to-school nutrition. After all, when our kids are in school all day long, can we really control what they are eating?
Yes, we have a responsibility to make their lunches. But how can we instil good eating habits so that those lunches aren’t being traded away for sugary snacks and drinks when we’re not looking? As Jason Machowsky writes on Nutrition411.com, “while it is easy for us to regulate what our children eat when they are young, we cannot always control the in-class birthday parties, candy-based fund-raisers, and midday snacks.”
He goes on to note that “studies have shown that the habits we start during childhood and adolescence often carry on into adulthood.” So how can we prepare our children to succeed, not just with their schoolwork, but with their nutrition as well? One way to do that, says Machowsky, is to learn the school’s policies on snacks. Are they allowed to snack in class? Do they have fundraisers that promote the sale of candy or chocolate?
Knowing the “snack culture” of a school can go a long way in helping your child create healthy habits. And on Naturopathic.org, Dr. Daemon Jones adds that you can encourage your child’s healthy habits by changing their food options on a daily basis. It should come as no surprise that “Dr. Dae” recommends the avoidance of junk food in their lunches and the heavy inclusion of fruits and vegetables.
He goes on to offer up a few ideas on how to get your kids to enjoy eating their fruits and veggies. “Cut up fruits into bit size pieces and put them on a tray or in containers where they have access to see them and eat them,” writes Dr. Dae, “Vegetables, carrot sticks, snap peas or zucchini sticks can be a wonderful snack by having a tasty salsa or yogurt dip with cinnamon or other spices.”
He also suggests creating healthy pizzas and quesadillas by using whole wheat tortillas that substitute the standard cheese and meat toppings for hummus, carrots, tomatoes, lettuce and bell peppers. As well, smoothies are usually big hits with kids. Dr. Dae notes that they are great as either snacks or breakfasts. Allow your children to pick their favourite fruits and whip up a great shake before school each day.
Lastly, it’s important not to forget that children will tend to mimic what their parents do. So perhaps, there is no better piece of advice to give than to eat healthy yourself! Losing weight, staying fit and avoiding an increased risk of heart disease are all excellent reasons to improve your nutritional habits. But there’s no better reason than inspiring your kids to live healthy lives themselves. Here’s hoping your back-to-school experience next month is the healthiest one yet!