14 healthy eating tips as kids head back to school
Kids are back to school, and while you can't be with them all day to make sure they are eating right, there are some things you can do to ensure they are presented with easy, tasty, healthier options. Help your kids learn how to make smarter choices and before you know it, they'll be earning high marks in healthier eating. Here are some tips to make it as easy as 1-2-3.
- Talk to your child's teacher(s) about avoiding food or candy as a reward. A positive word of recognition or something as simple as a sticker is more successful at reinforcing positive behavior.
- Bring healthier treats (sliced apples, baby carrots, popcorn, mandarin oranges) for birthdays and class parties and encourage the teacher to ask others to do the same.
- Don't leave home with an empty tank—breakfast fuels the body so it can work its best!
- On weekends, make large batches of homemade whole-grain pancakes and waffles, muffins, hard-boiled or scrambled egg cups in muffin tins—things that can be stored in the refrigerator, reheated for quick grab-n-go breakfasts during the week.
- Ditch the breakfast pastries and grab fresh fruit, string cheese, nuts and trail mix for quick breakfasts instead.
- Your body is more than 50 percent water. You need more water when you exercise and play, so carry a water bottle during the day to keep well hydrated.
- If your children are involved in after-school sports, pack a snack of fresh fruit or veggies. If they eat concession foods, they can add their fruits and vegetables to make a more filling and balanced snack or meal.
- If children are in charge of getting their own after-school snacks, keep ready-to-eat pre-portioned snacks in an easy-to-reach area. Fruit, cheese sticks, pretzels, veggies, whole wheat crackers and whole-grain cereal (with little to no added sugar) all make great afternoon snacks.
- Consider the 80/20 rule in which 80 percent of the time, eat to fuel your body with food it needs to work its best and 20 percent of the time you can indulge a craving.
- Plan ahead to eat together as a family several times a week. Children who eat meals regularly with their family tend to do better in school. Enjoy meals and snacks at the dining table and aim for about a 30 minute timeframe.
- Encourage children to stop eating when their tummies feel full.
- Involve children in meal planning. Have them pick out a new fruit or vegetable they would like to try or let them build their own sandwich.
- Keep the lunchbox interesting by varying protein sources such as tuna, peanut butter, turkey, chicken or beans. Also rotate fruits and vegetables—apple, banana, orange, grapes, celery, carrots and broccoli are all great for lunchboxes. At least three of the five food groups—fruits, vegetables, protein, grains and dairy—are needed for a balanced and filling meal.
- Set a good example. When kids see parents eating well and exercising they are more likely to do the same.
Still have questions about your child and nutrition? Contact Gundersen Nutrition Therapy at (608) 775-3447 to schedule an appointment with a Gundersen registered dietitian.