Back to school nutrition basics
As you prepare to send your children back to school, ask yourself, ”What’s on the menu to fuel their active minds and bodies?” Eating a nutritious breakfast, lunch and snacks each day helps to keep your child healthy and ready to learn. Keep these back-to-school nutrition basics in mind to help your kids do their best this year.
Break the fast
By the time children wake up to go to school, most have gone for 8 to 12 hours without anything to eat. No wonder breakfast is often referred to as the most important meal of the day. Breakfast literally means “break the fast”. Consider the benefits of breaking the overnight fast with a balanced breakfast:
- Breakfast gives kids more of the nutrients they need
A nutritious breakfast provides children with energy and essential nutrients for healthy growth and development. Research shows that children who skip breakfast may not make up for the nutrients they miss.
People who eat breakfast have healthier body weights
Skipping breakfast is not a smart weight control strategy. In fact, studies have demonstrated that children and adults who do eat breakfast regularly have healthier weights than those who skip breakfast.
Skipping breakfast may effect school performance
Some studies show that missing breakfast has a detrimental effect on memory tests. Other studies suggest that eating breakfast is associated with improved memory, better test grades, greater school attendance and better behaviour. Children who don’t eat breakfast may feel tired and have difficulty concentrating.
Getting ready in the morning is a busy time, however you can still make enough time for breakfast. Try these quick and easy tips to help make a balanced breakfast a habit in your home.
What parent hasn’t had a lunch box returned only to find their child barely touched their lunch. It’s a common complaint. So what’s a parent to do? Getting your kids involved in planning their own lunch is one of the best ways to ensure they’ll actually eat it. Even young children can choose from healthy options.
Kids who help plan and prepare their lunch are more likely to eat it
Lunch is a perfect opportunity to help your child develop healthy meal planning skills for life. Guide your child in choosing from a variety of healthy lunch options based on Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide.
Make sure you consider their favourite foods
Ask your child to make a list of their favourite foods from nutritious choices in each of the four food groups. Have them update their list regularly and use it to create a shopping list to stock your kitchen cupboards and fridge.
See how to handle children’s most common pet peeves with these Simple Lunch Solutions.
Children need plenty of nutritious snacks to keep them fuelled between meals. Snacks now account for about one quarter of daily energy intake and on average provide more calories than breakfast or lunch. However, children often choose less nutritious snack foods that are higher in calories, fat or sugar.
Children have small stomachs and need refuelling
Because children have smaller stomachs than adults, they usually can’t eat as much as adults at one sitting. Nutritious snacks can help tide them over between meals and provide energy and essential nutrients.
Plan snacks around your child’s school day
Find out when your child’s school has scheduled break and snack times, and don’t forget about snacks for after-school activities.
Healthy snacks contribute to children’s well being
Snacks are like a fourth meal so it’s important to help children make healthy choices. A good place to start is to choose nutritious foods from each of the food groups in Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide.
Learn how to Fuel Children with Smart Snacking Habits.
Is one of the nutrients, along with protein and carbohydrate, that supplies energy (calories) to the body. Dietary fats include saturated (animal flesh, butter, margarine, processed and fried foods), trans (hydrogenated oils) and unsaturated (vegetable oils). Unsaturated fats are the preferred type for health reasons.
A group of carbohydrates that help make our food sweet. Glucose, fructose, sucrose and lactose are some examples. The different names indicate that each sugar has a different chemical structure.
This article was written for/ by EatRight Ontario