School is just getting back into session in the Chicago suburbs and routines are changing. It usually takes families weeks to nail down the new schedules. Here are a few easy steps to start to implement so everyone is off to a healthy school year!
- Eat a nutritious breakfast.
While there has been a debate recently about the merits of eating breakfast for weight loss, it is agreed that kids should not skip breakfast. Breakfast is a perfect opportunity to help your kids get a healthy dose of nutrients such as fiber, calcium, and protein. Limiting sugar intake in the morning will help keep their brains firing at full force during their early classes. Great quick and healthy options include: Make ahead breakfast sandwiches or burritos, overnight oatmeal, protein shakes, low-fat Greek yogurt and fruit, or scrambled eggs and a slice whole wheat toast.
- Limit liquid calories.
The easiest place to start is to limit sugary beverages such as soda. Sugary drinks are simply empty calories and devoid of nutrients. Try also limiting fruit juice or diluting juice such as OJ with water to reduce the sweetness and the calories. Try also to substitute sugary drinks for a glass of almond or coconut milk.
- Increase fruit and vegetable consumption.
Fruits and veggies are rich in nutrients including antioxidant vitamins A and C, folate, fiber, and potassium. They are also low in calories. To help your kid increase their consumption of fruit and veggies, keep pre-washed produce available for your kids to simply grab and eat. Keep washed berries, apples, pears, and bananas on hand. Keep a bag of baby carrots and celery sticks around for kids to snack on. The nutrients in fruits and vegetables are key to keeping your kids healthy during the school year.
- Plan dinner as a family.
The best way to get your kids to eat healthy dinner is to engage them in the planning. Choose healthy options that everyone likes and let your kids select a veggie option and healthy whole grain option. Steamed broccoli, sautéed spinach, whole wheat pasta, and brown rice are some examples of healthy side dishes. Healthy main dish protein options include baked chicken or grilled fish. Try to make meals kid friendly and try to eat together as a family on most nights. Planning ahead for busy school nights will make dinner run more smoothly.
- Practice portion control.
Finally, my favorite tip for families is to practice portion control. Minding your portions as well as those of your kids is, by far, one of the easiest ways to manage calories and avoid weight gain. I also love practicing portion control with kids as it allows for occasional treats instead of banning foods altogether. Portion out an occasional cookie for your kids’ snack and add additional healthy choices such as melon, berries or grapes.
Meal planning doesn’t have to be difficult. Pick a day during the week that you have time to pre-plan. Create bags of vegetables for healthy snacks, and even pre-prep breakfast and dinner items for quick turn around. If you have questions regarding recipes, meal planning or portion control, feel free to contact our office!