Summer is ending, at least from a school-vacation perspective. A new school-year is a perfect time to create new habits. Whether it’s added house chores, more time spent on homework, or improved nutrition, the start of a school year is an opportunity not to be squandered.
Here are some tips for parents and students, some of which we collected from the Fooducate community.
1. Start the day with a good breakfast. Hint: sugary cereal is NOT a good breakfast.
2. If your kids do eat cereal, choose cereal with 3 or more grams of fiber per serving, and no more than 6 grams of sugar (1.5 tsp). If it’s not sweet enough, let kids add a dash of honey or maple syrup.
3. If your kids bring lunch to school every day, work together with them on planning meals in advance in order to avoid the stress each morning. Not everyday has to be perfect, but each lunch should include a good balance of proteins, carbs, and fats.
4. Involve your children in food decisions for the home as well. We’ve had moms write to us about letting their children use the Fooducate app to scan snacks at the supermarket. The children were allowed to choose whichever snack they liked, as long is got a “B” or higher on Fooducate.
5. Reduce sugar intake. This is a long term effort that should build gradually. Kids love sweet, and many foods are overloaded with sugars. Start with beverages – reduce sweetened beverage intake. Limit juice to just one cup a day, or mix it with water to decrease the sweetness. Instead of presweetened chocolate milk, buy a powder mix to control how much is added to milk.
6. Limit the portion sizes of snacks. Two cookies and that’s it. Not 3 or 4 and then negotiate for even more…
7. Always have fresh fruit and produce washed and available for immediate consumption on the kitchen counter. Cherry tomatoes, apples, bananas, grapes, etc…
8. Try to remove artificial colors from your kitchen. Red #40, Yellow #5 and their friends are often found in kids foods in the US. Identical products in Europe use natural coloring because about 10% of children may have some hyperactive reaction to these synthetic dyes.
9. Food discussions with your kids should not be about weight loss, but rather healthy eating and good sources of energy for growing bodies and minds.
10. Set a good example. Parents will have a harder time demanding things from kids, when they themselves continue to eat un-healthfully.
Any more suggestions?
(Thanks to Fooducate community members Stephanie, Olivia, Andrea, and Aaron for your helpful suggestions!)