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BACK TO SCHOOL: Healthy eating for a successful year
It is a new school year and research suggests that children who eat nutritious foods do better at school.
Here are a few tips to make healthy eating part of your back to school plan:
Start the day off right: Eating first thing in the morning helps children to be more alert during the school day. Putting the toaster on the counter, pulling out the cereal and setting bowls, plates and cutlery on the table the night before can help busy families find time to eat in the morning. Sick of cereal and toast? Try poached eggs and cheese on a whole-wheat English muffin, oatmeal topped with walnuts and strawberries or a yogurt, granola and fruit parfait!
Involve kids in lunch: Involve kids as much as possible when planning, preparing and packing lunches. The more pride your child has in his lunch, the more likely he is to eat it! Lunches with nutrient dense choices will keep kids full and help them concentrate throughout the afternoon. Nutrient-dense choices include high-protein foods like beans, nuts or meat. Try to choose foods from each of the four food groups to provide balance.
After-school snacks: Children are often hungry by the time they arrive home from school. This can be a great time to offer fresh fruit and cut-up veggies and dip. Some other snack suggestions to keep within easy reach are nut butters, whole-grain crackers, cubes of cheese and yogurt. Having an after-school snack prepped and ready for your child helps them make a healthy choice and gives you a little time to get dinner on the table. Add fresh or frozen fruit to a pitcher of water for a refreshing thirst-quenching after-school beverage!
Eat together: Preparing, cooking and eating meals together provides time to connect and research shows children who eat with their families once a day perform and behave better at school. It is a time for parents to role-model healthy food choices and to check in with kids. It is also a great time to chat about another exciting year of school.
For a break from a packed lunch, see if your child’s school offers a Farm to School salad-bar program or another nutritious lunch program. For information on Farm to School programs and lunches to go ideas and recipes, go online to interiorhealth.ca/YourHealth/SchoolHealth/SchoolNutrition.
Submitted by Alexis Blueschke on behalf of the IHA Community Nutrition Program