School is back in session and this means there’s more on your to-do list, right? The beginning of the school year lends itself to more structured meal schedules, so take advantage of the new routine and enjoy healthy meals and snacks. While you work to keep the children on track, don’t forget about yourself. Who says after school snacks are just for the kids?
Eating breakfast is associated with positive outcomes all around. Children who don’t eat breakfast are less able to learn. Adults who maintain a regular meal schedule often have an easier time managing their weight too. Breakfast is an opportunity to provide macronutrients such as carbohydrates, protein and fats, as well as micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Your goal is to provide variety, and balance the plate.
There’s no perfect breakfast, the important thing is to nourish the body so it can perform the tasks needed through the morning. Add some bling to your oatmeal, or have a simple slice of whole grain toast with peanut butter and some fruit with a glass of milk.
Fueling the Athlete
While some students may play sports all year round, others get back to sports with the school year. Sometimes, nutrition takes a backseat with the rushed schedules. Be sure your child understands that proper nutrition is important to enhance athletic performance.
- Don’t Skip Meals: You don’t want to just eat well on game day, but all of the days leading up to it. Each meal is an opportunity to keep your body fueled, so that you perform your best during competition.
- Energy: Carbohydrates provide the energy you need. Include cereal, breads, pasta, rice, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy in your diet.
- Protein Power: Protein is needed to build and repair muscles. Be sure to include some protein at all meals. Try a hard-cooked egg, cottage cheese, or peanut butter at breakfast. Beef, chicken, fish, turkey, beans, or ham at lunch, and dinner. Drink milk with each meal as a protein supplement. Milk provides protein as well as carbohydrates and important vitamins and minerals. It’s a perfect nutrition package for athletes.
- Fats: Fat helps us stay full, so it helps sustain the energy of a meal. Think of healthy fats as the ones you add to a meal or in cooking at home – such as nut butters, nuts, seeds, avocado, olives, and vegetable oils. Limit packaged baked goods or other high fat packaged foods that often contain trans fats.
After School Snacks
Keep after school snacks on hand that are quick, easy and nutritious. If you are concerned about your child’s sugar intake, keep portion control in mind. These simple snacks can be prepared by school age children with a bit of help from mom, dad, or an older sibling:
- An ounce and a half of cheese with 6-8 crackers
- A cup of Greek yogurt with fruit
- Whip up a banana-peanut butter-chocolate smoothie for the whole family to enjoy
- A glass of milk with two cookies
- A peanut butter and jelly or toasted cheese sandwich
- Sliced apples or pears with peanut butter or fruit dip
Rosanne Rust MS, RDN, LDN is a registered, licensed dietitian-nutritionist with over 25 years experience. As a Nutrition Communications Consultant she delivers clear messages helping you understand the science of nutrition so you can enjoy eating for better health. Rosanne is the co-author of several books, including DASH Diet For Dummies® and the The Glycemic Index Cookbook For Dummies®. A wife, and mother of 3 boys, she practices what she preaches, enjoying regular exercise, good food and festive entertaining. Rosanne is a paid contributor for the Calorie Control Council. Follow her on Twitter @RustNutrition.