Back to School Tips
Finally, after what may have seemed like an eternity, children are getting ready to head back to school for in-person learning. One very important thing to consider as we navigate back to in-person learning is ensuring our kids stay as healthy as possible. Things like healthy lunch options and getting back into a routine are ways to help our kids stay healthy. I have outlined some simple ways to help your family accomplish these goals.
Healthy Lunch Options
Ensuring that our kids have a healthy lunch is one of the most important ways we can ensure that they get the nutrition they need to grow and remain focused in school. You want to consider adding nutrient-dense foods such as proteins, fruits, vegetables, low-fat/no-fat milk/dairy, and whole grains as much as possible. Try to limit foods that contain added sugars, saturated and trans fats, as well as sodium. Accordingly to a public policy published in the Official Journal of The American Academy of Pediatrics, excess consumption of added sugars contributes to the high prevalence of childhood and adolescent obesity and increases the risk for dental decay, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes mellitus, fatty liver disease, and all-cause mortality. Eating a diet complete with whole grains can help reduce the risk of heart disease, as well as other chronic diseases, according to myplate.gov. See the tips below on how to increase nutrient-dense foods and limit or eliminate foods with added sugars, saturated and trans fats, and sodium.
- Replace fruit juices that contain added sugars with no-added-sugar juices or water
- Replace chips and cookies with fresh fruit and vegetable
- Replace white bread with whole-grain options
- Avoid processed meats that are often high in sodium, and opt for canned tuna, peanut butter, eggs, and or rotisserie/roasted chicken
- Incorporate low-fat yogurt and low-fat cheeses as a healthy snack option
- Try to avoid prepackaged foods, which are often high in salt and sugar
Getting Into a Routine
While kids were learning from home the past several months, many parents were working from home as well, so routines were inevitably different. You probably didn’t have to wake up as early to drive to work and school, worry about picking up kids from school, or even driving around to make it to all the extracurricular activities. Now, as we return to work and school, we need to get back into the swing of things and fall into a routine that works best for the family. According to an article published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, routines are associated with increased family functioning, improved sleep habits and have been linked to the development of social skills and academic success. Here are some tips to help get your family into a routine.
- Decide what needs to be included in your routines, such as exercise or alone time. Prioritize what’s most important for you and your family.
- Layout a plan that is realistic with small goals initially. For example, if you want to include in your routine healthy eating, start with one meal a day as it is more attainable, and plan to incorporate more options over the course of a few weeks.
- Be prepared, and you may need to do some prep work ahead of time to ensure that your routine is a success. For example, if part of the routine is to clean your house on Monday, check to make sure you have the necessary cleaning supplies ahead of time.
- Positive reinforcement. Once you find success with your routine, reward yourself and your family for helping stick to the plan. The reward could be something as simple as a family dinner out or movie night on Friday. Be creative and include your kids in deciding the reward.