Yikes - Where did the summer go?

By Sean Delaney

The CNE is well underway and September 4th is right around the corner, so do you know what that means?

Is it time to panic?

Below are simple tips to get you going on the right foot and ready for the school year.

1. Start the day off right.

Eating breakfast as a family is a perfect way to bond and spend quality time together while also preparing a healthy breakfast for the kids. Eggs with whole grain toast, fruit and yogurt, or whole grain unsweetened cereal with milk and berries are several great choices. Kids should begin their day with a meal consisting of protein and fiber, a winning combination of nutrients that will help them feel satisfied until lunch.

2. Nix the added sugar.

A recent study suggested children and teens aged 2 to 18 limit added sugar to no more than six teaspoons (25 grams) per day.

Kids who eat foods high in added sugars tend to eat fewer healthy foods that are good for their heart. Added sugar provides no nutritional benefits and is found in a wide range of food from cookies, ketchup, salad dressings, sugar sweetened cereals (even some whole grain ones), smoothies and sweetened yogurts. The major culprit of added sugar, however, is soda and sugary drinks including iced tea and fruit punch.

Guidelines also suggest children and teens consume no more than eight ounces of sugary drinks a week. Sugary drinks, often called “liquid calories” provide no health benefits.

3. Swap juice for whole fruit.

It’s a good idea to feed your kids whole fruit instead of juice. Fruit is rich in fiber and its high water content helps to keep the calories low. On the other hand, it is so easy to guzzle down too many calories from juice without even realizing it. A pint of orange juice, for example, contains approximately 225 calories. This is the equivalent to two to three cups of mixed berries, which would certainly make a child feel much more satisfied.

Most people wouldn’t think twice about drinking a pint of juice but few would eat three cups of berries in one sitting.

4. Pack a healthy snack.

If you are packing snacks for your kids, here is a perfect opportunity to include at least one fruit and vegetable.

Smart snacks include fresh fruit (apple, pear, and bananas), Greek yogurt, baby carrots with hummus, roasted edamame, and of course a bottle of water.

Nuts or nut butter squeeze packs are also great choices if a school allows nuts; if not, they are a great go-to snack when kids get home.

5. Keep portions healthy (no measuring cup required)

Regardless of what you feed your kids serve healthy portion sizes. Try the plate method with kids (as long as the plate isn’t oversized). At dinner, for example, fill half the plate with veggies and a quarter with protein (think fish, chicken) and the other quarter with a healthy starch (brown rice, sweet potato). To avoid overeating, limit eating in front of the TV and pre-portion snacks into 100 calorie portions.

6. Skip the white food (unless it’s cauliflower or white beans).

White bread including bagels, white rice, and white pasta are refined grains and are easy to overeat.

Because they contain virtually no fiber, we don’t feel satisfied after eating them. While many kids choose them by default, introducing kids to healthier alternatives including quinoa, whole grain pasta, and brown rice helps them get into the habit of enjoying these grains.

No need for kids to cut out starch entirely. Choosing the healthier ones is a far better alternative.

7. Get moving!

Incorporating sports and exercise into your children’s daily routine is a great way to keep them healthy while also keeping their weight in check. If possible, enroll kids in after school activities, enjoy a walk or bike ride with your kids, and encourage them to move. If parents engage in physical activity, their kids will follow along.

Hope your school year gets off to a great start.