Back to school time is busy for families across East Tennessee. One of the most important things parents can do to help children perform their best is to ensure they eat a healthy, balanced diet. August is National Kids Eat Right Month, so it’s a great time to emphasize the importance of healthy eating year around.
While it’s important to offer healthy options at every meal, a healthy breakfast and lunch are really important, says Janet Buck, a clinical dietician at Children’s Hospital. Breakfast gives children the fuel to start their day and ensure their brains are working at their best. Then, lunch is important for healthy refueling to get them through the rest of the school day and all the activities they may be doing after the bell rings.
Buck has three tips to help your children eat healthy meals.
Involve kids in the process. Let them decide between a couple healthy options. Let kids choose one or two to include for breakfast or to pack in their lunch. Letting them help with the grocery shopping can also promote better choices.
Plan ahead. Convenient, pre-packaged foods are readily available and easy to grab and go, but many aren’t the healthiest options for our kids because they can be loaded with sugar, sodium and fillers that don’t provide the fuel they need for their growing minds and bodies. Make a breakfast and lunch plan a few days in advance. Include items you need on your grocery list and don’t shop on impulse. Prepare lunch items the night before, go ahead and rise fruits and veggies and put them in containers making it easy to grab and go.
Finally, rethink thee drink. Juice boxes and sports drinks are very popular, but many contain large quantities of sugar. Water and milk are the best drinks for children and teens. If your child prefers flavored drinks, opt for flavored waters without added sugar. Read labels to avoid sugary drinks. A good rule of thumb for children and teens, who can tolerate dairy products, is 3 servings of milk per day.
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