Are you ready?
Summer vacations are over and our focus now shifts to the new school year. Let’s start it off well, and welcome a new school year with a healthy mind and body!
Nutrition will be the key to having a productive school year. Eating the proper foods will nourish the body with the essential nutrients. These nutrients will provide the body with energy. In addition, eating the right nutrients will enhance our ability to focus. Both energy and focus are the keys to being successful in the classroom. Studying for exams, completing homework and projects, and participating in extracurricular activities, sports and clubs, all rely on the energy we obtain from nutrients, which in turn allow us to focus.
These nutrients are easily attainable by eating whole foods. Organic fruits and vegetables, healthy proteins (meat, seafood, chicken, beans, eggs), and good fats are all components of a balanced breakfast, snack, lunch, and dinner. Starting the day off with a healthy breakfast can set the tone for a productive day. A healthy breakfast can consist of eggs, uncured meats, fruits, or even a smoothie. Sugary pastries and cereals can cause a sharp rise in blood sugar, followed by drowsiness, leaving us feeling less satiated. So, these processed foods should be avoided.
Packing a good healthy lunch with vegetables, fruits, proteins and good fats is a good way to re-energize midway through the school day. Uncured meats such as turkey, salami, and ham; grilled chicken tenders, sweet potatoes, snap peas, carrots, berries, apples or bananas are all nutritious foods that you can easily pack for lunch. For late afternoon or afterschool snacks, reach for some homemade trail mix, a handful of nuts, no sugar added granola bars, baked crackers, root vegetable chips, an apple with nut butter, carrots with hummus, or a no sugar added fruit cup. After a long day at school, kids are always very hungry so a healthy snack can easily carry them into a healthy dinner.
For dinner, fill your plate up with a good quantity of vegetables and a healthy protein cooked in a good healthy fat like extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil or coconut oil. Baked, steamed, sautéed, roasted, air-fried or even grilled are all good options for preparing all of your meals. In addition, leftovers make a great next day school lunch.
A second key to a successful school year is sleep. The body is able to rest and repair while you are asleep. If we do not get an adequate amount of sleep, the body’s repair mechanisms can be hindered leading to a weaker immune system. As a result, incidences of illnesses and school absences can increase. Ensure that school aged children are getting enough restful sleep by setting early bedtimes, which will prepare them for a smooth and seamless morning.
Another key to success is staying active. Once the school year starts, we (parents) get a little help with PE class and recess. However, kids should be getting additional exercise. Whether it is going for a walk with the dog, swimming, dance or martial arts, keeping the kids active will contribute to an overall healthy body. Playing outside is an added bonus with fresh air and sunshine. At least 20 minutes a day outside will help activate the body’s production of Vitamin D, which is a very vital and important nutrient.
Lastly, as parents and caregivers, take time to sit down with your children and ask about their school day. Ask open ended questions, and always remain actively involved in their school work and activities. Our children accomplish great things every day, and let’s make sure we are constantly encouraging them to reach further than before.
To all the parents, caregivers, teachers, and children, here’s to a healthy and successful school year!