School is back in session and parents need to get ready. This doesn’t just mean buying new school supplies, but also preparing your kids to get the nutrition they need. A lot of the time nutrition is hard to tackle when busy school schedules and after school activities underway, but it’s important to keep your children healthy and eating well. If you’re having trouble making sure your family is getting the daily nutrition they need, here are a few back-to-school tips to help you out:
On your least busiest day of the week, take the time to meal prep for your family. Meal prepping is a great way to stay on track with portions and keeping a balanced diet. Every meal should contain most, if not all of the following: fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy protein. Healthy proteins include chicken, eggs, and beans. Meal prep gives you the chance to chop fruits and vegetables while selecting which proteins you’d like you’re family to have that week. If you don’t have the time to chop or cook the protein you need, you can always purchase pre-chopped fruits and vegetables or pre-cooked proteins. Food prep will also be a fun activity for you and your family to do together.
A Balanced Lunch
Meal prepping also makes it easier to prepare lunches the night before. Putting lunch together the night before gives you more time to prepare a well-balanced meal. As mentioned before, protein, whole grain, fruits and vegetables should be in every lunch you assemble. You can choose any one fruit, two vegetables, one healthy protein, one whole grain, and if desired a choice of dairy. To give you an idea of how to incorporate all of these nutrients into one meal, make a whole-grain wrap or sandwich with a mustard spread, an assorted lean meat like chicken or turkey, cheese, tomato, lettuce, and include a serving of fruit on the side. Also make sure to pack a healthy snack to eat before or after lunch.
Breakfast helps give kids a healthy start to their day and gives them the energy they need for school. This makes breakfast a very important meal of their day. A well balanced breakfast should include a protein and carbohydrates for lasting fullness and energy. A few healthy breakfast essentials for you and your family are eggs, fruit, whole grain bread, or a low sugar cereal with low-fat milk. If your household is too busy to prepare breakfast and is always on the go, grab a granola bar. Granola bars can be a quick and healthy breakfast substitution for busy mornings. But be sure to bring extra fruit or vegetable snacks on your way out to keep your morning nutrients balanced.
By the time kids come home from school or after school activities, they’re looking for something to snack on. A lot of times, they don’t want to wait for dinner so it is important to have healthy snacks waiting for them. Remember to keep small snacks for between meals that include protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats to keep your kids full until dinner is served. A few healthy snack ideas are apple slices with roasted chickpeas, string cheese with a cup of grapes, peanut or almond butter on a small 100% whole-wheat pita, and carrot sticks or sliced veggies with hummus. Make sure to have these snacks at the ready in a specific place in the fridge or pantry that allows easy access for your kids
Daily water intake is super important to keep healthy. Drinking water is imperative for restoring fluids lost through everyday tasks, keeping your body temperature normal, and carrying nutrients and oxygen to all cells. It’s recommended to drink between seven and fourteen glasses of water a day, which varies on age and activity level, but that’s not always easy for children to achieve. A way to make that a little easier for you children is to give them a water bottle for refilling throughout the school day. Water is a huge factor in helping to maintain a healthy weight and is a great substitute for sugary, high calorie drinks.
Keeping on track with your kids’ nutrition will help keep the whole family well balanced. Make sure to also apply these breakfast, lunch, snack and meal prep ideas to your own diet. By keeping up with these nutrition tips on the weekends and during the months outside of school, your family will be happy and healthy all year.