While most parents prepare their children to go back to school by shopping for new clothes or buying them school supplies, many overlook one of the most important items their child will need to succeed in class, which is healthy food for meals and after school snacks. Here are a few tips we share with the parents of our patients so that they can make this school year the healthiest year yet for their family:
1. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day for growing children. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, children who eat breakfast perform better on tests, have improved concentration, show increased hand – eye coordination, and are better at problem solving. Still not convinced? Both children and adults who eat breakfast are more likely to weigh less than those who skip eating in the morning. Ideas for quick and easy breakfasts are smoothies made with low-fat yogurt and fruit, instant oatmeal topped with nuts or berries, whole grain toast or English muffins with natural peanut butter, and healthy breakfast tacos made with corn tortillas, scrambled egg (or egg whites), beans, and/or turkey sausage.
2. Choosing healthy snacks can help with weight control and improved concentration in children. Some parents tell me that they don’t allow their kids to snack because they don’t want them to “ruin their appetite”, but kids who are hungry tend to display decreased focus and attention and may be more likely to overeat at their next meal. A small, portion controlled snack like a piece of fruit, yogurt, raw veggies dipped in low-fat ranch, baked chips, and low sugar granola bars can curb a child’s appetite until meal time or power them through sports practice after school. However, I do caution against serving a very large snack that’s nearly the size of a meal after school (such as a sandwich, Hot Pocket, etc.) since the child will be eating again at dinner time in a few hours. Appropriate portions and nutritious choices are the key to making snacks a healthy addition.
3. Another frequent comment I hear from parents is that when they try to pack their child a healthy lunch, they find out that the child is throwing away the healthy foods (like their fruit or veggies) or bringing them home uneaten. To get your child to want to eat the healthy choices in their lunch, take them grocery shopping with you and have them pick out some healthy meal items themselves. Doing so increases the likelihood that they will eat it instead of throwing it out.
4. Finally, finding the time to eat healthy during the hustle and bustle of back to school can be challenging. Many parents tell me that by the time they leave work, run errands, and pick up kids from after school activities, they have little to no time to cook a healthy meal. This forces them to hit the drive thru where they often make poor food choices, such as burgers, fries, and soda. However, picking up fast food doesn’t have to be unhealthy, as many restaurants now offer healthier menu items for kids. For example, kids can eat a veggie or turkey sub from Subway and choose from healthy sides such as apple slices, yogurt, or baked chips. McDonalds also has many healthy options, such as oatmeal, an Egg McMuffin, or a fruit and yogurt parfait for breakfast and grilled chicken sandwiches or salads for lunch or dinner.
Almouie Pediatrics is committed to the attainment of optimal health, service and the highest quality healthcare for infants, children, and adolescents. Our mission is to deliver the most up to date and most comprehensive medical services to the families of Corpus Christi and surrounding area. With 5 locations to serve you- Calallen, Robstown, Portland, Alice and on Saratoga Drive in Corpus Christi- our extraordinary expertise and wide range of services makes Almouie Pediatrics the premiere and most innovative pediatric practice in South Texas. To schedule an appointment, please call 361-767-9963 and let one of our friendly staff members know which office you would like an appointment at.