Check out our Back to School page for information on how to keep your kids healthy from kindergarten to college!
With the sound of school bells just around the corner, it’s important to refocus your efforts to ensure healthy eating with our kids. Providing healthful meals and encouraging physical activity are essential for your child’s growth and development, and will help your child build healthy habits for the rest of his or her life and improve their academic achievement.
Not sure how to keep your child excited about eating healthy and moving more? Here are some tips to get on the right track.
Start the Day Off Right
Don’t skip breakfast. Studies show breakfast eaters tend to have higher school attendance, less tardiness and fewer hunger-induced stomachaches. They also score higher on tests, concentrate better, solve problems more easily and have better muscle coordination. If you are pressed for time, quick options include instant oatmeal topped with nuts or raisins, low-fat yogurt with sliced fruit or whole-grain toast with peanut butter.
Keep Lunchtime Interesting
•Plan lunch together. Encourage kids to pack their lunch with items they enjoy so they are less likely to throw their lunch away or swap with classmates.
•Try new foods. Pack exotic fruits such as kiwi, or allow them to pick fruits and vegetables they want to try at the grocery store.
•Celebrate special days. Plan lunch around special events. For example, pack an all-red lunch for Valentine’s Day or include a fortune cookie to celebrate Chinese New Year.
•Offer choices. Vary protein sources — tuna, peanut butter, turkey or beans — and offer different whole-grain items such as whole-grain bread, tortillas or crackers. Rotate whole pieces of fruit (banana, orange or grapes) and cut-up vegetables (celery, carrots or broccoli).
Regular physical activity is vital to strengthen muscle and bones, promote a healthy body weight, support learning, develop social skills and build self-esteem. Kids are encouraged to be active for 60 minutes per day. Involving the family is a great way to spend time together. Hike together as a weekend outing, ride bikes after dinner, play catch after work or take the dog for a brisk walk.
Sometimes the biggest barrier to eating healthy is the people around us, especially our co-workers. Even though they might want the best for us, they can sometimes feel put off by our decisions to eat healthy or bring our lunch to work. Here are some tips to help you
Be open. Tell your co-workers your plans to eat healthier and exercise. Ask for their support and help. By involving them they might be more likely to encourage and not discourage you. They will feel part of your plans and want to help you along your journey.
Make a plan. Start the day off knowing what you plan to eat for lunch and snacks. Stick to it! Don’t let others talk you out of your plans, instead invite them to join you. Visualize following through with your plans and the conversations you might have with others to let them know you are not going out to lunch today. By practicing it in your mind, you will be ready to respond when the time comes.
Take it home. You don’t want to seem rude by refusing to eat the treats in your office. Instead of saying no, say Thank you, I will take it home and share it. That way nobody is offended and you don’t have to eat it right then and you don’t seem judgmental.
Skip it. In the office there always seems to be treats or candy around. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to eat it. We often get into a habit of thinking we must eat whatever is brought in. Just because there is candy in a dish on your boss’s desk doesn’t mean you have to eat it whenever you go into their office. Skip it! Bring your own healthy snacks from home to eat instead.
Don’t let other people or your environment get in the way of your goals! Make a plan and stick to it. Be sure and let others know that your health goals are important to you and that you want to be successful. Chances are you will find your co-workers to be the best support of all!
Being active is not just about burning calories. Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age. It can also reduce your risk of depression and may help you sleep better. Research has shown that doing aerobic or a mix of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities 3 to 5 times a week for 30 to 60 minutes can give you these mental health benefits. Some scientific evidence has also shown that even lower levels of physical activity can be beneficial.
Improving your mental health can help support a positive outlook on life. Research also shows that physical activity helps to relieve symptoms of depression & anxiety and leads to improvement of mood. Being active gets your blood flowing and releases neurotransmitters which are responsible for our energy levels and emotions. Physical activity can leave you feeling invigorated sharp and full of energy. By making fitness activities social like taking a class with others, it can add another layer of benefit that can also improve your mood. Social interaction while performing the same activities is a great way to connect with like minded-people.
Don’t just think of exercise as a way to lose weight and look great—it can help you feel great on the inside too. Be active it just might change the way you feel!