Back to school (& work for many) typically means life suddenly gets busier and more chaotic. Families wake up earlier to rush and get ready for class, then there’s taking the kids to sports, music lessons, and sometimes appointments, overseeing long hours of studying, grocery and school supply shopping… Time disappears.
And along with time slipping through our fingers, so can healthy eating habits. It’s sometimes difficult to find the time to prepare healthy breakfasts and snacks, pack lunches and then make a balanced dinner that everyone will enjoy (and consume!).
However, healthy, balanced eating should be a priority for all of us, no matter what else is going on in life. With a little planning and self-discipline, keeping on-track can be easy. The trick is to get into the habit from the start – it’s always easier to keep up a good habit than to try to break and replace an old (possibly bad) one.
The reasons for ensuring that our children gain & maintain healthy eating habits are ample. Here are just a few of them:
Learning & Mental processing: it’s now universally known that children who don’t have proper meals (esp noticeable w/ breakfast) have reduced concentration and ability to focus in school.
Energy: Keeping active and alert requires adequate caloric intake - of the healthy kind! When kids are hungry/deprived of the right nutrients they wont be able to keep up in class, recess, at sporting activities, etc.
Growth and Development: children and teens grow quickly (obvious in how quickly they need new clothing!). Their bones, organs, brain, skin, blood vessels, etc all need adequate nutrition. Without the proper building blocks, these essential structures will form poorly or not at all.
Preventing Obesity: Obesity and Diabetes are rampant in our culture. According to the American Pediatrics Association, obesity is the Most Common medical condition of children today: approximately 26% of Canadian children ages 2-17 years old are currently overweight or obese.
Psychological Health: Improper nutrition severely affects mental health:
The brain & nervous system is almost completely made up of fatty-acids – without adequate amounts of the appropriate fats, it cannot properly develop, function or be maintained!
The brain also needs appropriate amounts of glucose to function properly – however excess sugar can promote hyperactivity. Nutritional meals and intake of healthy complex carbohydrates can help prevent this imbalance.
Need a couple of suggestions to get you off on the right foot this school year? Just a couple of ideas may include:
Key points to consider when packing lunches:
If you’d like some healthy recipe ideas, check out:
Dr Katarine Holewa