This time of year, as the weather begins to cool off, family schedules often heat up with new school schedules and after school activities. With all the activity, it’s important that everyone in the family is getting the nutrition needed to stay energized and healthy.
Q: How Can My Kids Get the Nutrition They Need, Now That They’re Back to School and Fall Activities?
First, everyone is unique in their nutrition needs. Calorie, vitamin, mineral and similar needs vary based on age, gender, activity level and more. You can find specific recommendations for your family in the most recent Dietary Guidelines
. With that said there are many ways to ensure that your kids get the nutrition they need to stay focused and mentally sharp in school, maintain a strong immune system and keep energized through after-school activities:
Start the day with a solid breakfast.
We can’t stress enough just how much breakfast can affect the day. Lean protein, fruit and whole grains have the power to satisfy hunger and can help boost brain power. In fact, studies consistently show
that a quality breakfast improves mental performance. Oatmeal with fruit and nuts, eggs with wheat toast or even a grab-and-go apple and nut butter sandwich can get the day started right.
Get veggies in wherever you can.
Veggies aren’t often kids’ favorite foods, but they are packed with the nutrition kids need to stay healthy and happy
. Keep cut veggies and fun dips around for snacks, ask kids to choose veggies they’d like to eat when shopping, sneak vegetables into favorite recipes for flavor and nutrition and always include them with meals to expose kids to them even if your children don’t eat them.
Keep snacks on hand.
Days can be long once kids head back to school, and a steady supply of good-for-you foods throughout the school day and after can help kids keep up their energy and prevent afternoon meltdowns. Fruit, nuts, veggie chips, string cheese, cut veggies, hard boiled eggs and similar choices are easy to keep in an insulated bag in backpacks or the family car and can help keep blood sugar steady as a “mini meal.” Every snack is another opportunity to squeeze in some nutrition, so make it count!
Just like snacks, restaurant meals are another nutritious opportunity. They can also be a huge time-saver and stress-less option for weeknight dinners. Make healthier menu choices comprised of lean protein, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, the foundation for keeping kids going strong during busy days.
It’s not just your kids who should stay on track with a healthy diet, either! Chances are that everyone in the family has a busier schedule once the school year gets going. Support your health, avoid illness and energize your days with the best food choices at home and eating out.
Menu choices like these, recommended by our team of food-loving dietitians can help your family save time and eat well all week long: