With back-to-school season upon us, and September marking National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, the time is ripe to consider how to boost your family’s heath and wellness with simple back-to-school healthy living and nutrition tips.
We recently learned some tips from Dr. Doni, an award-winning naturopathic doctor and nutritional specialist, who is committed to helping empower families with advice about natural health solutions to improve their lives. Here, Dr. Doni is sharing top tips for back-to-school wellness -- with advice ranging from healthy eating approaches to sleep recommendations -- so families can start the school year on the right foot.
Tip One – Start the Day with a Protein Rich Breakfast & Prepare Protein Rich Meals/Snacks
To help regulate blood sugar be sure your kids eat a protein-rich breakfast before they head off to school, and include protein at both snack and lunch time. As you might imagine, children, just as adults, feel and learn better when they eat small “meals,” always including protein, every 2-4 hours. If I could change the definition of “snack” and “meal,” I would combine the two! I would make a meal the size of a snack and with the protein content of a meal. Plan on having a protein-rich meal ready for your child when they arrive home from school, and then another protein-rich meal for dinner. Some examples of foods rich in protein to include in your kids’ meals include: Turkey, turkey sausage/bacon, chicken, salmon, and nuts.
Tip Two – Balance Blood Sugar with Complex Carbohydrates
Often when we think of a snack, it is carbohydrate filled (popcorn, chips, and fruit for example). The same goes for "breakfast" (cereal, toast, juice, waffles). High carbohydrate foods raise the blood sugar temporarily, and then cause a rapid drop, resulting in decreased focus, irritability, and fatigue. Keep in mind, there are two types of carbohydrates – simple and complex. When you seek a carbohydrate, try to incorporate complex carbohydrates instead, such as brown rice, quinoa, vegetables, nuts and seeds into your diet. They leave you feeling satisfied longer and help keep your energy levels steady. The solution for optimal health and blood sugar balance: Eat every few hours and always include a protein (known to increase energy and focus). When eating carbohydrates, try to incorporate complex carbohydrates.
Tip Three – Shop for Health: Create a Back-to-School Grocery List that Promotes Wellness
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Empower your kids with healthy food when you see them off to school. Here are suggested items for your grocery list (and your kids’ snack/lunch bag) that will support healthy eating during the school day.
• Turkey roll: 2 slices of Applegate farms turkey rolled and wrapped in a paper towel, with an ice pack
• Turkey jerky: 1 preservative free, natural turkey jerky
• Hard boiled egg, on an ice pack
• Organic corn tortilla chips and/or Blue Diamond hazelnut rice crackers
• Sunflower seeds, shelled
• Hummus in a small container
• Grapes, carrots, or apple slices (show your child how to eat these with protein, not alone)
• Gluten-free pretzels
• Apple or berry sauce in squeeze packages
Note: Many classrooms do not allow nuts when a student in the classroom is allergic, so save nuts and nut butter for breakfast and snacks later in the day.
Tip 4 – Offer Your Kids Food Rich in Antioxidants
Antioxidants fight the oxidation process, a chemical reaction that can cause damage to many cells in your body. Try to incorporate foods rich in anti-oxidants into your kids’ meals. Some examples include red peppers, blueberries, prunes, pomegranates, kale, brussel sprouts, nuts, cranberries, cabbage, and beets. You can also add antioxidant rich food into after-school smoothies. Here is one suggestion for creating a smoothie for your kids: Start with a protein powder base, like Nutrabiotic rice protein (plain, vanilla or chocolate) or The Hamptons Cleanse Shake (berry flavor – ok for kids too!) or InflammaCore (banana, orange or cherry flavor). Then add any of the following:
• Cocoa powder
• Stevia, liquid comes in various flavors
• Proberry, berry extract
• Flax oil
• Cashew or almond butter
Tip 5 – Be Sure Your Kids Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep is critically important for kids, especially as they head back to school. After a summer of late nights, it is critical to get your kids back on a schedule so they can learn and thrive at school. Here are some helpful guidelines illustrating how much sleep your kids need, based on their age. Be sure to incorporate an extra 20-30 minutes for getting ready for bed so they have time for brushing, flossing, mouth rinse, and reading. • 3 – 6 years of age: 10 – 12 hours of sleep per day
• 7 – 12 years of age: 10 – 11 hours of sleep per day
• 12 – 18 years of age: 8 – 9 hours of sleep per day
Tips provided by Dr. Donielle (Doni) Wilson.
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