Where has the summer gone?! It’s hard to believe that August is already here, because that means the “back-to-school” rush has officially begun! Summer break is a wonderful respite from the hectic schedules many families face during the school year, but it can also be a time when healthy habits get pushed aside. So, as the kids prepare to head back to school in a few short weeks, make an effort to refocus on health and wellness to ensure your family is ready for the 2011-2012 school year.
- Breakfast is a very important meal for children and adults alike. We need fuel in the morning to jumpstart our metabolism and provide us with energy until lunchtime. Breakfast keeps us alert and energized throughout the morning, which is crucial for children who need to be focused on learning all day at school. This Museli Parfait recipe is one of my favorite breakfast choices for busy mornings since they are prepared ahead of time. The goodness of whole grain oats is combined with calcium and protein-rich dairy, fresh berries loaded with antioxidants, and omega-3 rich walnuts. Delicious!
- Lunch can be a little more of a challenge, especially if your child is choosing their own lunch items from the a la carte line, snack bar, or vending machine at school. Go over the cafeteria menu with your child at the beginning of the week and discuss what items would be healthier choices. If your children take their own lunch to school, ask for their help with meal planning and preparation. Take them to Festival with you when you do your grocery shopping and use NuVal™ Scores to find healthy foods that they enjoy. Odds are your kids will be more likely to eat their lunch if you allow them to choose what goes into it. The Meal Makeover Moms have some fun and healthy recipes that your child will love!
- Snacks are another important item to send with your child in case they get hungry between meals or if they have after-school activities. Throw in some fresh fruit or raw veggies, whole grain crackers, string cheese, or trail mix to keep their hunger at bay. These Grab-and-Go Granola Bars are a nutritious snack that you can individually package and send to school with your children.
- Physical Activity is also essential to keeping your family healthy and happy. Whether or not your children are involved in school sports, seek out other opportunities to fit in exercise as a family on a regular basis. Take a family walk or bike ride after dinner, shoot hoops at the park, play disc golf or lawn games like football, Frisbee or bocce ball, or have fun playing a good old fashioned game of tag!