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Back to school nutrition tips

kid back to schoolSummer is winding down, sad, I know. Although I do love the warm weather and everything that comes with it, I do cherish the cooler temperatures of fall. I love the crisp air, the changing color of the leaves and the comfy cozy sweaters I get to wear.

With that I know many parents are gearing up their kiddos for the start of the school year. It’s time to get back into a routine and that includes preparing lunches for our young ones so that they may be energized throughout the day.

The classic lunch item since I was growing up was the standard sandwich, bread; lunch meat; cheese and lettuce. But lunches have evolved since then and can be so much more exciting and nutritious. For sustained energy the focus should be on healthy fats, fibre and protein. Steer away or eliminate processed foods as they add little to no nutrition, are highly processed and will hinder your child’s energy expenditure during learning and physical education.

So how do we go about this? Yes, there is planning to be done and prepping involved but it doesn’t have to take long. Also, if you involve your kiddies that can help expedite the process and it allows them to have ownership and input into what goes into their meals and snacks. Plus, it’s a good way for them to see what is all involved when prepping and preparing meals.

healthy snack

Stocking up

First thing is to make sure you have ingredients on hand, make sure you’re stocked up on essentials that you use often and then once a week pick up any perishables such as meat, veggies and fruits. I like to do grocery shopping over the weekend so that I have everything I need for the beginning of the week.

Prepping and preparing

Pick a day of the week that you are the least busy to make meals ahead of time that can either be refrigerated or frozen. For myself that’s Sunday because I view Sunday’s as the “get everything organized day”, but for you it may be a different day!

I love making things in bulk and storing in the fridge or freezer for easy on the go meals, one such dish is making a big pot of chili and portioning it out in freezable containers, another one is large batches of soup.

For quick snacks you may want to cut up vegetables sticks and fruit and store them in the fridge that you can easily add to a lunch, almond butter or homemade dressings will complete a healthful and nutritious snack. And on that topic let’s move onto snacks!

Snacks!

Fun nibbles that you get to eat that keep you satisfied if you happen to get hungry in between meals. Keep snacks to an allotted time so that kids are not conditioned to eating throughout the day, this may lead to over eating, the feeling of hunger is an important signal in that your body is indicating when it needs nourishment. Kids needs to understand that distinction.

As mentioned above my go to snacks are veggie sticks or fruits, they have fibre; water; and vitamin and mineral content. You can get creative and cut them into fun shapes to make then more interesting.

Another good option for snacks is nuts and seeds, I understand many schools have banned nuts so always double check first which nuts are allowable. Do try your best by staying away from “fruit snacks” and some granola bars, let’s be honest many of those products are glorified candy and chocolate bars. They typically have added sugars and will do more harm then good when it comes to blood sugar.

Swapping certain food items for similar

seet potatoe food wsapWhat I mean by this is swap out a food item for a different food item that is more nutrient dense.

For example:

  • Pasta noodles for zucchini or spaghetti squash noodles
  • Instead of bread or bun try lettuce wraps
  • Use sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes
  • Make homemade fruit leather instead of store bought
  • Instead of chips or crackers try seed crackers or seaweed snacks
  • Try avocado pudding instead of store bought (trust me they won’t tell the difference)

Keep it simple!!

We all want to be that parent that sends their kids to school with stellar lunches but with busy lifestyles it can be hard to make those elaborate lunches. Chicken and tuna salads have been an easy simple meal, boil up a bunch of eggs to add for filling and nutritious add-ons; also about eggs, there’s no reason that you can’t cook up an omelet and make that the main lunch item, it’s quick and easy.

Hope that helps with some meal planning and prep as the new school year dawns on us. Remember, healthy fat; fibre and protein and your little ones will be well fed and energized so that they may focus on being the leaders of tomorrow!

Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only, it is not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent any illness or disease. Please consult a professional for your healthcare needs.

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