It’s September, so you’re probably preparing for back to school, lunches, soccer practice, and repeat. We thought it timely to share with you our latest tips on how to keep your family healthy during the school year.
Now, we’re certainly not against a treat every once in a while, but we simply want to encourage making healthy snacks a part of your family’s regular routine. Give your kids healthy but tasty alternatives to those sugary treats. This may seem obvious, but developing unhealthy eating habits when you’re young may be a bigger issue than you once thought. The statistics on childhood obesity are quite alarming. Consider just a few:
- Childhood obesity in the US has more than doubled in children in the past 30 years
- Approximately 17% (or 12.7 million) of children and adolescents in the US aged 2—19 years are considered obese
- Globally, 43 million preschool children (under age 5) were overweight or obese in 2010
Across the country there have been many efforts to improve healthy eating at school including modifying or removing vending machines as well as the national school lunch program. However, healthy changes can start right at home.
Here are some tips for packing healthy school lunches:
Fruit – Find out what your child’s favorite fruit is and pack it! Chances are they would be delighted to find a container of raspberries or strawberries packed in their lunch bag. Fruits such as berries offer necessary antioxidants, which are vital for healthy immune systems.
Veggies – Most kids don’t like eating vegetables, but what about veggies & dip? Even better, what about veggies & yogurt dip? Yogurt dip can easily be made at home using plain yogurt, olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Kids love to dip!
Snacks – Ditch the cookies and give your kids popcorn. You can make the popcorn at home and monitor the amount of salt and butter. Try using coconut oil for an even healthier (but still tasty!) twist. Kids tend to equate popcorn with fun, so pop away.
Juice – Swap the juice box for freshly squeezed juice or a homemade smoothie. Sure it may take a bit more time to prepare but likely your kid will enjoy it more and it will pack a punch of nutrients at the same time.
Vitamins – While all vitamins and minerals are important for growth and development, some are especially critical for children. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most children do not get enough iron and calcium from their diets. Other vitamins of concern are vitamin D, vitamin A and the B vitamins. A multivitamin can help ensure the pickiest eaters get all the nutrients they need. We know, it’s almost impossible to get a child to swallow a multivitamin. Instead, add a multivitamin to a smoothie and pack it in the lunch bag, they’ll be none the wiser.
Take control of ‘Back to School’ and teach your family about healthy food options.
(1) Childhood Obesity Facts (2015, June 19). Retrieved October 5, 2015 from http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html
(2) Child Obesity (n.d.) Retrieved October 5, 2015 from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-trends/global-obesity-trends-in-children/
(3) Ellis, E. (n.d.). Does My Child Need a Supplement? Retrieved from https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/dietary-supplements/does-my-child-need-a-supplement
(4) Sopher, AB., Fennoy, I., & Oberfield, SE. (2015). An update on childhood bone health: mineral accrual, assessment and treatment. Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes & Obesity, 22(1), 35-40.
(5) Ogden CL., Carroll MD., Kit BK., & Flegal KM. (2014). Prevalence of childhood and adult obesity in the United States, 2011-2012. Journal of the American Medical Association 311(8) : 806-814.
(6) Wartian Smith, P. 2008. What you must know about vitamins, minerals, herbs & more. Square One Publishers, Garden City Park, NY. 174-175; 184-185.