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Did You Put Nutrition On Your School Supply List?
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 • Posted August 24, 2011

Now that the kids are back in school, I want to remind you of the important role nutrition plays in assuring kids a successful school year. Nutrition and learning go hand in hand. Kids who are nutritionally fit are more likely to have the energy, stamina and self-esteem that enhance their ability to learn. Running out the door with thoughts of seeing old classmates, joining new clubs, participating in school sports and getting good grades, kids will not be paying much attention to the proper nutrition needed to accomplish all of this. It is often said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet 35-40 percent of all Americans skip breakfast. The statistics for children are just as alarming - as many as 48 percent of girls and 32 percent of boys do not eat breakfast every day. Additionally, for many other children, breakfast is a trip to a convenience store or a vending machine for a soda and a high-fat, high-sugar pastry. This is definitely not the best choice for the nutrients they need nor is it cheap. Here are a few tips suggested by the American Dietetic Association on practical, easy ways to help ensure both proper nutrition and a successful school year. Start with a healthy breakfast. For children and teens, a morning meal is especially important to prepare them to meet the challenges of learning. Many studies have shown that those who eat a morning meal tend to perform better in school, score higher on tests, have higher school attendance and less tardiness, and have better concentration and muscle coordination. Also, kids who eat breakfast have fewer hunger-induced stomachaches and are less likely to be overweight. Having said all that, are you wondering how to get a child to eat breakfast? Where will the extra time needed for a morning meal come from? You can make breakfast fun by planning it with your child. Decide who prepares what and work together to get it done. If your child doesn’t like traditional breakfast foods, don’t worry - breakfast foods can be any food they like, even a slice of pizza. Keep quick-to-fix foods on hand or get breakfast foods ready the night before, such as muffins or breakfast casseroles. If kids say they are not hungry, start them out with something light like juice or toast. Some people believe skipping breakfast may help them lose weight. Just the opposite is true. Skipping meals often leads to overeating later in the day. If you get too hungry it can lead to a lack of control and the inability to determine when you are full. This can result in consuming more calories than if you had eaten an appropriate breakfast. Even a quick piece of fruit can provide some extra energy and boost your metabolism! Parents can play a role in helping a child choose healthful meals in several ways. Keep the school lunch menu in your kitchen, go over it with your child, and talk with your child about making good choices in the cafeteria line. Support the nutrition education efforts at your school- if your child attends the ACE program, they will get 4 nutrition ed lessons from me! Follow it up by making the recipes I taught them again at home with you. If your child doesn’t attend ACE but you want the information, I can put together a packet and mail it out to you. Email me at kmpowell@tamu.edu!If your child prefers to brown bag it to school, let your child help plan and prepare school lunches. When they’re involved, chances are they will resist trading their carrots for cookies. Pack meals that are easy to prepare and fun to eat as well as nutritious. A few examples are sandwiches, raw veggies, crackers, string cheese, whole fruit and yogurt or pudding. Make sure you put in several ice packs- there was some research all over the news recently that said nearly all kids’ lunches from home sit at an unsafe temperature for more than 2 hours. Most of them tested did have one small ice pack or frozen water bottle- so make sure you use a couple and an insulated lunch tote. Finally, for after-school snacks choose foods that supply needed nutrients that can be missed in meal choices. Stock up with ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables, animal crackers, popcorn and cereal. Your child will appreciate the availability of quick healthy snacks. Proper nutrition is crucial for social, emotional and psychological development. Teaching children how to eat healthy will enable them to establish a foundation of good nutrition and healthful lifestyle habits that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Source: University of Missouri Extension

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