Summer break is often when your child’s healthy eating plan takes a vacation. As summer comes to a close, it’s time to refocus your efforts to make sure your child is healthy and ready to learn to make those all-important grades. Providing healthful meals and plenty of physical activity are essential for your child’s growth and development
To start, be sure your child doesn’t skip breakfast. Studies show that breakfast eaters have higher school attendance, less tardiness and fewer hunger induced stomach aches. They also score higher on tests, concentrate better and solve problems more easily. Quick breakfasts include instant oatmeal, breakfast bars and milk, yogurt with fruit, whole grain toast with peanut butter. Many schools also offer school breakfast. Many children are eligible for free or reduced price breakfasts.
When it comes to lunches, encourage your children to pack their own lunches if they don’t eat school meals. Plan lunches around the plate. Offer a fruit, vegetable and entrée which includes a grain and protein source. Vary protein sources like tuna, peanut butter, turkey or beans and offer different whole grain items like whole-grain bread, tortillas or crackers. Rotate easy to eat pieces of fruit (bananas, apples, oranges or grapes) and cut-up vegetables like celery, carrots and broccoli – dip is optional.
For adding a little pizzazz to everyday lunches, add a new fruit or vegetable each week. For example, add kiwi slices one week, mango slices the next. Celebrate various holidays by adding a fortune cookie to celebrate Chinese New Year, a couple of chocolate hearts for Valentine’s Day, etc. Don’t forget the milk or yogurt for growing bones. A favorite of most children is yogurt in a tube that has been frozen.
Lunches and snacks for children can be creative and fun. If you have the time, be creative with color and design. I love using food for art projects in the classroom. You can have children create their own healthy, edible portraits, landscapes, etc., using food. What is more fun than eating a “seascape” for lunch? For more ideas on edible art projects for kids check out this vignette on “How to incorporate Healthy Snacks into the Classroom” from the new ehow Ask a Nutritionist video series: http://www.ehow.com/videos-on_12242697_ask-nuritionist.html. Getting an “A” in lunch is easier than it seems!