For many parents, back-to-school presents mixed emotions tipping the balance in favor of anxiety.
There's one part Elation: Yeah, they are back in school!
But two parts Concern: A) How do I prevent them from getting the colds and flus that run through the classroom, and B) what do I send them that they will eat (and enjoy)?
Here are some tips to tip the Back-to-School recipe in favor of Elation:
- Keep added-sugar intake low (for example, add sliced strawberries to a waffle with nut butter vs jelly).
- Aim for daily intake of all the different colors nature provides (you can make this a game with the kids using a color calendar on the fridge to see if they eat a "rainbow" each day) by making kid-friendly snacks such as baked sweet potato cubes, a Gorilla sandwich (hummus in a hollowed out cucumber or zucchini), and fruit / vegetable skewers (using straws).
- Eat Organically: whereas chemicals can interfere with the body's immune system, organic food does the exact opposite making sure we get as much of nature's intended immune-supporting phytonutrients, minerals, and vitamins as possible.
- Consider supplementation of vitamin D and a probiotic. Typically my recommendations are food first, but in these two instances I recommend supplementation to ensure adequate levels in the body.
B) When it comes to what kids will like and what they need, the two really aren't as far apart as it sometimes may seem. The goal is to get a nutrient-balanced eating occasion in about every three hours (I teach kids using the "racecar" analogy -- we need "pit stops" where we get gas (carbs), air in the tires (protein), and clean the windshield (healthy fats).
With school schedules and after school activities this can seem daunting especially if we follow a traditional "meal" and "snack" plan, where challenges arise from concern about what makes a meal and what is a healthy snack they will like.
My advice: pack a bag of goodies for the day and you will likely find greater success in terms of their liking it, eating it, and gaining optimal energy.
Some ideas that pack well:
Hummus or a bean dip with crunchy veggies; baggies of cereal mixed with nuts and coconut pieces OR organic granola (make sure to portion control); leftover pita pizza made into little roll-ups; mini-nut butter or pesto sandwiches on manna bread; organic fruit crisp -- use your favorite cereal as a topping; crunchy veggies with a honey mustard or favorite dressing; chocolate pieces and nut butter to dip; popcorn with nuts and seeds; a necklace strand of cereal O's (a great weekend or after school project).