Healthy Eating: Back-to-school health tips
Here Beverley Waithe, MA, RD, CDE, a nutritionist and certified diabetes educator, shares a tip for healthy holiday eating. ~Courtesy of Saint Peter’s Healthcare System
As the weather cools off and school is back in session, your schedule can change with the change in season.
Utilize the season change as a time to reassess and organize your healthy lifestyle habits. Try to plan balanced meals and snacks to fuel a busy day of learning. Avoid going long periods of time without eating, and consider snacks to help provide energy throughout the day including after-school activities.
Also, be mindful of children with food allergies, and check your school’s policy to ensure a safe environment for your child and others.
Meal planning tips:
- Prioritize breakfast. Some quick ideas to start your day include plain yogurt with nuts, cottage cheese with fruit, protein smoothie, hard-boiled egg with fruit, whole grain toast with nut butter, or oatmeal.
- Pack lunch for both you and your child. Try to pack lunch the night before to help save time in the morning.
- Plan ahead and make a grocery list. Involve the entire family in planning meal and snack ideas for the week.
- Aim to have balanced meals with at least one ingredient from each food group: protein, whole grain, fruit, vegetable and dairy/non-dairy alternative.
- Some ideas for meal choices are bean soup, vegetarian chili with mixed beans, stuffed peppers with lentils and quinoa, tofu stir fry with vegetables and brown rice, chicken fajitas, salads with beans/nuts/avocado, or pita bread with hummus and vegetables.
- Ditch processed foods with added sugars such as sugary cereals, white bread, bagels, cookies, cakes, and candy. Choose complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, and beans.
- Avoid sugary teas, juices and soda. Focus on water for hydration.
- Remember to eat a fruit or vegetable with each meal and snack.
- Timing of lunch can depend on assigned schedules, so prepare snacks to give you a boost in between meals.
Experience the season:
- Step outdoors and enjoy apple picking. Then, consume as a quick snack.
- Toss sliced beets in olive oil and bake. Eat as a side, combine with goat cheese, or add to your salads and sandwiches.
- Add broccoli to an omelet, mixed vegetable stir-fry, whole grain pasta or salad. Eat as a crisp, fresh snack and dip in hummus or guacamole.
- Use cabbage to make coleslaw, add to tacos, or create a salad.
- Snack on sliced peppers, try stuffed peppers with lentils, or include in a mixed vegetable stir-fry.
- Craft a potato
- Roast pumpkin seeds, add pumpkin puree to your smoothies, or bake pumpkin bread.
Enjoy seasonal produce and continue to find exciting ways to consume a variety of fruits and vegetables. Schedules can become busy, but nutrition can help improve your body’s function, impact concentration, support energy and optimize sports performance.
Keep healthy habits at home and in school. Help your children develop nutritious eating habits in childhood that can carry throughout their lifespan.
Renee Pieroth is a registered and licensed dietitian. She has a master’s degree in clinical nutrition. Pieroth is a board-certified specialist in oncology nutrition and is also a certified group fitness instructor. She works at a cancer center and as a consultant. She writes a blog titled Renee’s Healthy Weighs to promote healthy choices and overall wellness.