5 Simple Nutrition Tips for Back-to-School & the Entire Family
There are some basic and simple nutrition tips that you can follow to encourage your whole family to live a bit healthier this fall. These may seem easy, but these simple nutrition tips really can make a big difference!
1. Don’t skip breakfast and eat real food for breakfast every day. This sounds like a simple nutrition tip – but as we all know, mornings can be tough when getting the family ready, fed and out the door. But taking the time to eat a real breakfast can make a major impact in the productivity level for both kids and adults! Power up your family with protein-rich foods to power up the brain and kick-start the metabolism for the day. So set a good example by eating a healthy breakfast with a good source of protein. Studies have shown that kids who skip breakfast and eat sugar-laden, additive-laced foods, and who get 10-15% of their calories from liquid sugar drinks like sodas, will gain weight will be prone to get early diabetes, heart disease and stroke in adolescence and may have issues with paying attention and solving problems.
Quick & healthy breakfast ideas:
- scrambled eggs with fruit
- Greek yogurt with granola and /or fruit and diced nuts
- nitrate-free turkey sausages and fruit
- fresh fruit smoothies with whey protein and /or Greek yogurt
The most simple nutrition tip is to try to eat at home most of the time. Scheduling your weekly meals can be a great way to increase your ability to eat healthier. When you have to spend time buying the ingredients to make a meal, you’ll have more time to focus on what’s on your plate and portion size control. Bringing back the importance of family meals can not only do wonders for the communication of the family unit, but it can also provide a great environment to encourage your family to make healthier choices together. As a team, the motivation to keep eating well can thrive. It is estimated that family meals only happen three times a week – so make them count!
2. Pack healthier school lunches. Just because it’s easy, doesn’t mean it’s a healthy choice. When planning lunches for the family, focus on including fresh, whole foods whenever possible. To help keep blood sugar levels stable and to keep energy and mood in balance, plan to add variety in every lunchbox. Try fruits and vegetables that are in season so you can keep the options interesting and packed full of different vitamins and antioxidants. Adding a mix of proteins, whole grains and fruits/vegetables can be the perfect mix.
Quick & healthy lunch ideas:
- healthy salads with protein like chicken or tuna
- turkey pita sandwiches (optional: add avocado)
- turkey and vegetable sandwich on whole grain bread
- chicken/brown rice/vegetable soup
- whole wheat quesadilla
- grilled chicken strips with dip
3. Plan ahead! Mornings can be very hectic trying to get everyone fed and out the door. Finding time for breakfast can be difficult enough, so why not plan out and even pack lunches the night before? Leftovers from dinner can be used in the next day’s lunches, so try planning lunches out the night before to save you time in the morning!
Quick tips on how to save time the night before:
- cut up the leftover chicken into bites to add to salads in the morning
- put leftover soup into single portion containers to send to school for lunch
- make large containers of chicken /tuna salad for the week
4. Don’t forget to pack healthy snacks! Children and adults alike need a snack during the day. Try sliced cucumbers, carrots or bell peppers – most kids like the crunch of these vegetables and adding a dressing or dip like hummus can add some extra flavor.
Quick & healthy snack ideas:
- peanuts (if allowed) or cashew butter with celery stalks or apple slices
- ½ cup of granola with mixed nuts
- Make your own healthy trail mix with granola, rice puffs, almonds and a small amount of dried fruit.
5. Stay hydrated. Hydration plays a pivotal role in overall wellness for everyone in the family. Since the body performs more efficiently when hydrated, make water the primary beverage of choice for your home. If need be, purchase a special water bottle (non-plastic is ideal) for your children so they can help gauge how much they’ve had or need to drink throughout the day. Adults should aim for at least 2 liters+ (64oz) on a typical day. According to a study by researchers at Queens College of the City University of New York, children need 5 – 8 cups per day (approx. 40-60oz). For added flavor, or if your kids fall behind on drinking water, try coconut water – it is a rich source of electrolytes, is low-calorie, nearly fat-free, low in sugar but pleasantly sweet.
Tip for getting kids to drink more water:
- Kids can get bored of water, try adding fresh lemon wedges, orange wedges or even a few sliced up strawberries for a hint of tasty flavor!
Derek Johnson is a holistic nutritionist at New Metabolism, his Santa Monica, California-based practice, and also serves as the executive nutrition director of The Biggest Loser Resorts. He is board certified in integrative health, holds a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, completes continual CE courses and is a member of numerous nutrition associations. Follow him on twitter @DerekJohnsonNM and become a fan on Facebook!