[as seen in the Oxford Review August 30th, 2012]
There have been a couple cooler nights and some of the trees are sporting red and orange leaves – summer is coming to an inevitable end and a new school year begins. Now is the time to refocus your efforts as a family to ensure your kids nutrition and physical activity habits are a go for the new school year.
If you pack your children’s lunch (at some point they do transition to packing their own), take your kids grocery shopping with you. Allow them to pick out healthy foods that they enjoy. Your children are much more likely to eat what you pack for them if they have picked it out themselves.
Breakfast I am pretty sure that it is common knowledge that all kids should eat a healthy breakfast. It should come as no surprise that many studies show that breakfast eaters tend to have higher school attendance, less tardiness, and fewer hunger-induced stomach aches in the morning. Also, their overall academic test scores are higher, they concentrate better, solve problems more easily and have better muscle coordination. Based on the overwhelming evidence, please do your best to make sure your kids eat a nutritious breakfast every day.
I do have a couple of tips for breakfast food selection. Please don’t bother with cereal bars because they have as much sugar as sugar-sweetened cereals. Also, it is important to buy yogurt that is low in sugar. The sugar content is much more important than the fat content. Another tip is to leave the juice alone. This is a tough transition to make once they have been drinking juice for a while, but the sugar load is just too high.
Remember that a balanced breakfast, no matter how quick, should contain protein, healthful carbohydrates, essential fats and fibre with little or no added sugar, saturated or trans fats.
Oh, and despite what you may have heard – Eggs are always a good choice.
Plan Ahead This is probably the most important thing when it comes to making sure your kids are getting the nutrition they need. You have to do some stuff in advance. Remember that organizing healthy lunches for your child doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. Put a few simple things together ahead of time like a bunch of cut up veggies and some hummus. Also, all of the kids I have given veggies and hummus to devour it with a speed that is hard to fathom.
Instead of tossing whatever is handy into their lunch boxes as they are running out the door you will find that planning ahead makes all the difference in the world. Kids love to be involved in the process!
Set a couple of hours aside on the weekend to plan and shop for all the food you’ll need for the week ahead. You can also batch cook and freeze individual portions for a grab-and-go lunch during the week.
Food preparation requires you to do it ahead of time. For example, peel and chop enough fruits and vegetables to last the whole week (to prevent the fruit from going brown, sprinkle it with lemon juice). Better yet, package them ahead of time so that they are ready to throw in a lunch bag. My wife does this for me and I can tell you from personal experience it makes all the difference!
When it comes to back to school nutrition there are a few supplements that I think are vital to talk about:
Fish Oil If you only go and get one supplement for your child – this is it!! The fish oil of today is nothing like you remember it. It is smooth and tasty and I will guarantee that your kids will beg for more and more. The brand you are looking for is Barleans and the flavour is Key Lime. It is high potency with a whooping 1,500mg of healthy essential omega-3s. As far as I know there is one place in Woodstock that you can pick it up. The store is called Inside U and is located at 682 Peel St. Frankly, I find they have amazing service and Steve is so good I don’t go anywhere else. They also have an online store if you are interested: http://insideu-online.ca
So why omega-3? Well it has been shown in numerous studies that the DHA in fish oil is particularly important in developing brains. When your kids are in school they need every edge they can get. Another important benefit of the DHA is that it helps them pay attention better in class. Also, in a new study published this year it was shown that DHA also feeds the healthy bacteria in the gut. This makes a very healthy and happy child. Want to increase your kid’s grades? Fish oil!
Whey Protein Having a healthy, quick, and easy snack for the kids isn’t always so easy. If you want to try something new try 1/2 a serving of whey protein (about 13g per serving). I prefer the Warrior Whey and Diesel protein brands and they come in amazing flavours. They have no artificial sweeteners and are all-natural. I do not recommend any other whey protein at this time.
With the flavoured protein shakes, your kids have an easy and quick snack with little or no sugar added. All they have to do is add water and enjoy. Plus it curbs their appetite before supper (can also be used at breakfast).
Whey protein has three other benefits. The first is supplying a young person with health protein for growth. And the second is as an immune booster since whey is loaded in healthy immune-building molecules. Plus, it tastes great.
ADD/ADHD If you child has had problems with Attention Deficit Disorder (like I do) then there is an amazing supplement that has one thing going for it. It works. Those moms (and dads) who have used it attest to its effectiveness. It is called LTO3. It contains L-Theanine, Omega-3, and Scullcap. If you wanted to go the natural route when working with your child then this supplement is for you!
Last Words When it comes to a nutritious school year the most important thing you can do is talk to your children. Learn the foods they like and work with it. Teach them about the foods they need for their growing bodies and do your best to explain it in ways that they understand. But the biggest lesson you can teach them is by living a healthy life yourself. Become of a living manifestation and they will learn from your example.
As always – Eat healthy. Be an example. And smile!
Note To Sonia – When you are reading this my love I would like you to know I wouldn’t be anywhere close to what I am without you. Thanks for always making me great food. You are a wonderful wife and I♥U.