A new school year is a perfect time to start some new healthy habits – not just for your child, but for the whole family!
Here are 9 healthy habits that can help you and your kids reach their top potential.
1. Heavy breakfast – your family doesn’t need any calories to watch TV at night or sleep, but they need tons of calories throughout the day to keep you alert and energized. Make bigger meals when your family needs it most, and keep evening meals small (like just a meat and a green).
2. Frequent meals - By eating 5-6 times a day, your family will have a TON more energy. Ask your child if they get hungry during the day. Send them to school with a bag of nuts or a protein bar to snack on between classes to help keep their metabolism revved all day. This is especially important if they attend after school activities.
3. Don’t forget the protein - Many meals (especially for kids) are high in carbs. Kids tend to eat (or want to eat) a lot of foods like cereal, poptarts, chips, fruit rollups, candy, french fries, tater tots, pizza, etc., but most kids don’t eat a lot of meat or high-protein foods. Probably because they aren’t wrapped in a fun flashy cartoon wrapper. As you are making meal, look at protein content and make sure they are getting protein with carbs and fat for more balanced meals. Greek yogurt, eggs, lunch meat, cottage cheese and protein enriched foods (like high-protein flat bread) are great foods to add to meals and snacks.
4. Hydration – Often times kids want a soda or snack, when they really need hydration the most. Teach your child to always drink a glass of water before they take their first bite of a snack. They will not only bet the hydration they need, but they will likely eat less.
5. Limit caffeine – Caffeine is a drug of sorts. It has a chemical effect on the body, so it is smart to limit those beverages. Cokes should be treats, not a daily staple – especially while they are growing. Low Fat milk, water and juice (in moderation) should be the main source of hydration and nutrients.
6. Avoid sugar & processed foods – Processed foods break down and turn to sugar very rapidly. This can send someone’s blood sugar for a roller coaster ride full of ups and downs (and more downs, than ups). By limited sugar, you’ll be able to maintain a more steady level of energy through out the day (and avoid weight gain associated with high-calorie processed foods).
7. Stress buster foods – Does your child even know what that is? To me, it means your child shouldn’t feel deprived, but there are also foods known to help relieve stress. They should have foods they can snack on and enjoy without negative side effects. For me, it’s 100 calorie popcorn. Your child may enjoy yogurt or fresh fruit. Either way, they should never feel that eating healthy is boring or restrictive. While it may take some adjusting at first, they should enjoy the foods they eat. CLICK HERE to get see a list of 10 foods that help relieve stress.
8. Boost Super foods – People talk about super foods all the time, but do you know what they are and what they do? There are actually foods that help us think and perform better. Some of those foods include berries, nuts, seeds, salmon, avocado and beans. CLICK HERE to read more on foods that boost brain power from WebMD.
9. Avoid unknown foods – When you eat out, you really have no clue what’s in that food. Since most restaurants are all about the dollar bill, we should expect they will cut corners and add fillers, taste enhancers and who knows what to keep us coming back for seconds. My rule of thumb is this: “if you don’t know what’s in it, don’t eat it” – especially if it’s a big day (like test day). Not only is this a good way to avoid eating extra unknown calories to avoid weight gain, but it will also help you feel your best by eating your best. If you MUST eat out, stick to whole foods and avoid all the extra sauces, breads, toppings and junk.
Whether you are a parent or not, these are great healthy changes everyone should try to implement. :)
Are you giving your kids the right fuel for school, or do their choices consist of PopTarts, Toaster Strudels, Cinnamon Toast Crunch or “leggomyeggo” waffles?
I have to admit, my mom really didn’t know a lot about nutrition when I was young. I pretty much ate whatever I wanted – none of which was healthy. Pop Tarts and sugary cereals with prizes in the box were a staple in our house. I wasn’t a big breakfast eater, and I’m sure my mom was just happen when I ate breakfast period – no matter what it was. However, she had no idea what it was doing to my day at school.
Ironically, my mom must have known a healthy breakfast had it’s advantages because my mom always made me a healthy big breakfast on test day. The problem is, no healthy breakfast in the world could help me get a better grade when I wasn’t paying attention all the other days I ate crap. What a child eats for breakfast greatly determines how they feel at school.
Fuel the Brain
You probably wouldn’t let your kid eat a piece of cake or some brownies for breakfast, but the majority of breakfast foods for kids are as equally unhealthy. They may taste good on the tongue, but they do nothing for the body.
Sugary, high-glycemic breakfasts set your child up for failure. They will get your child happily out the door, but in just a couple hours (if that), they will likely lose energy, along with their attention span – unless they are lucky enough to have a stimulating class (like PE) that gets their blood sugar back up mechanically from exercise or activity.
Your child needs healthy low-glycemic foods rich in fiber, with a little healthy fat. Lower glycemic foods deliver an IV drip-like affect of energy throughout the morning. Sugary foods hit the system fast, and also leaves the system fast. Lower glycemic foods and healthy fats take a slower time to break down in our system. The longer it’s in the tummy, the longer the energy will last from the meal. Meals high in fiber keep the tummy full too, as well as regular blood sugar (and a ton of other great stuff too).
As I look back, I remember eating nice big healthy breakfasts on Saturday mornings or on Holidays because that’s probably when my mom had more time to cook. Yet, that would be a good time to have a “treat” like waffles or french toast, because it’s not like I needed a lot of energy to watch cartoons all morning. But, for school, it’s a different story. Kids need all the help they can get to be alert, feel good and do well in school. A healthy breakfast is a must for your child’s brain – not to mention their waistline!
Eat This, Not That
This info graphic by HowManyCaloriesCounters.com shows what, and what not, to eat before exam day – but I think it’s how all students should eat to perform their best EVERY day.
Who’s the Boss?
I think back to my school days, and I can’t BELIEVE what I ate. Processed foods and coke were my go-to foods. I didn’t even know what oatmeal was. Whole grains? What is that? Eggs? Yuck! Yogurt? You mean frozen yogurt? Honestly, what kid is going to choose oatmeal over Captain Crunch or Pancakes!? Sure, there are a few kids who like eggs and toast, but most kids would prefer the breakfast that comes in a flashy fun package, complete with a toy.
I remember thinking Special K was for overweight women and Raisin Bran was for old people – I only knew what the commercials taught me. It’s time for parents to be parents. It’s time parents teach their children to eat healthy – and to help them understand why it’s important (other than just being about weight).
You want your child to FEEL good. You want your child to perform their best – and I’m sure you don’t want them to gain weight or struggle with weight related health issues like diabetes. If you wouldn’t let them take drugs in your house, or make other poor choices that are dangerous or unhealthy, don’t let them make poor choices with food. While one poptart won’t hurt here and there, a child who is allowed to eat whatever they want when they are young, could have serious repercussions later in life.
One article in the NY Daily News on this topic said, “Childhood is a critical period in which dietary and lifestyle patterns are initiated, and these habits can have important immediate and long-term implications,” says lead author Dr. Jianghong-Liu, associate professor at Penn Nursing. “Breakfast habits appear to be no exception, and irregular breakfast eating has already been associated with a number of unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, frequent alcohol use, and infrequent exercise.”
Top 10 Sugar-Bomb Cereals
Here are the top 10 sugar-bomb kids’ cereals, ranked by percent weight in sugar by the Environmental Working Group. NOTE: 26% is the recommended MAX.
- Kellogg’s Honey Smacks: 55.6% sugar
- Post Golden Crisp: 51.9% sugar
- Kellogg’s Froot Loops Marshmallow: 48.3% sugar
- Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch’s OOPS! All Berries: 46.9% sugar
- Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch Original: 44.4% sugar
- Quaker Oats Oh!s: 44.4% sugar
- Kellogg’s Smorz: 43.3% sugar
- Kellogg’s Apple Jacks: 42.9% sugar
- Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries: 42.3% sugar
- Kellogg’s Froot Loops Original: 41.4% sugar
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There’s something about getting back into a routine that makes you feel normal again. Sure, parents complain about dragging their kids to and from school and all their extracurricular activities – football, band, ballet, cheer, piano, church, etc. However, there is something very good about being forced into a solid (even if seemingly binding) routine.
We humans need structure.
Although I’m not a mom, I had the unique opportunity to be a mom for almost 2 years when my 12 year old sister came to live with us (or you could say she came for a summer to visit and never left! ha!). With band, basketball, church and all the other activities she was involved with, I became a part-time taxi and cheerleader. It was like taking a second job – but secretly, I liked it. Having structure forced me to manage my time better.
Sure, we’d all like to complain about it and talk about how great the summer was – free of the taxi job and stress of school. But the truth is, our body NEEDS a tighter schedule. Even if you don’t have kids like me, I still am impacted by school starting back up and the world around me being back in a steady rhythm. Read the rest of this entry