Tips for a healthy start back to school.

Can you believe it’s already that time again?? Here in the north, school is starting back up next week! If you have children or you yourself, are going back to school, you know this time and transition can be chaos.

The change of season, routine and structure completely changes, and can leave everyone feeling run down and more susceptible to illness.

Good quality sleep, and sound nutrition is super important for young children, especially during this transitional time of starting a new routine in a new environment.

Children aged 6 to 13 need 9-11 hours of sleep. So if your child starts school at 9am and needs to be up at 7:30am to prepare for the morning and eat breakfast without being rushed, a good bedtime is between 8-9:30p,  with the younger kids being on the earlier time. For some, this might even be earlier. This makes it difficult with homework and extra curricular activities, but adequate sleep is crucial for the well being of your child and should be made priority. If they need a bedtime snack, try to choose one that is low in sugar of any kind and easy to digest.

Studies show that children who eat a nutritious breakfast function better. They do better in school, and have better concentration and more energy.

Nutrient dense breakfasts include eggs made any way, good quality meats, hearty oatmeal with fruits and nuts, and smoothies! Most breakfast cereals are made from refined grain, often by a process called extrusion. They are highly processed, and many ingredients are added. They are high in sugar and simple carbohydrates that lead to sugar crashes early in the mornings, feeling hungry sooner, and therefore, results in irritable kids. Starting the day with a high-sugar breakfast cereal will spike blood sugar and insulin levels. Choose foods that are nutrient dense and make you and your children feel great on your way out the door! Children need a lot of good fats for healthy brain development and growth.

If your child is staying for lunch, you’ll have the lovely task of packing lunches. For me personally, I will make a hot meal in the slow cooker overnight and spoon it into thermoses so my children have a hot lunch the next day. Or I’ll make sandwiches or wraps made with real meat instead of lunch meat, always have a fresh fruit, or fruit salad, vegetables with hummus or aioli to dip, hardboiled eggs, or a smoothie in a thermos. Usually at the end of summer, I make huge batches of soup and freeze them in portion sizes, thaw one the night before and quickly cook them on the stove (takes 3 minutes) on the colder mornings and put in a thermos.

Does your child attend a school that has a cafeteria? Ask the school if they have a wellness policy in place. Sometimes schools have policies like this where they encourage healthier options and don’t serve fried, packaged or processed food to children.

A good quality vitamin with minerals is important for your child as well. Look for a multi vitamin and an omega 3 that does not contain colours, additives or sugars like high fructose corn syrup or glucose that has no place in a child’s vitamin.

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Children are fussy and picky and their taste buds are constantly changing and evolving over their childhood. They will go through phases that they only desire one food, to not wanting to look at the food they usually enjoy! As parents, allow your child to at least try a new food, and then pass no judgment if they do not like it. Introduce it back in a few weeks or months and the outcome might be different.

Healthy habits produce healthy children. We know this in ourselves as adults. At the end of the day as parents, we can only do our best, so let’s aim for that!

Good luck to all the students, teachers and parents during this transition next week! Here’s to a healthy school year!

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