NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Back-to-School Nutrition with Lunch Makeovers

ThinkstockPhotos-528974268.jpgIt’s that time of year again…back to school! This means busy evenings or early mornings getting lunches packed for the kids. What’s in a child’s lunch is important because it’s in childhood that eating habits are formed—and heart disease, obesity, osteoporosis, and other diseases begin to develop. Fatty buildups, the beginnings of clogged arteries, are seen in the arteries of children as young as 10 years old.

So even though that prepackaged meal is the quickest and easiest thing to throw in a lunchbox, consider these 10 ways to help your child eat a more balanced lunch.

  1. Encourage your child to choose 1% or fat-free milk. Milk is the biggest source of saturated fat in children’s diets. Choosing 1% or fat-free milk instead of whole or 2% is an important strategy for keeping children’s hearts healthy and arteries clear.
  2. Switch from bologna, salami, pastrami or corned beef, and other fatty luncheon meats to low-fat alternatives. Supermarkets sell many good-tasting, low-fat or fat-free brands of turkey breast, chicken breast, ham, bologna, and roast beef.
  3. Include at least one serving of fruit in every lunch. Try buying a few new types of fruit each week to let your child discover new favorites and to give him or her more healthy eating choices. In addition to apples, oranges, or bananas, try pears, sliced melon, cups of applesauce, grapes, or pineapple (fresh or canned in its own juice). Try serving fruit in different ways: whole, cut into slices, cubed, or with a yogurt dipping sauce.
  4. Sneak vegetables onto sandwiches. Try lettuce, slices of cucumber, tomato, green pepper, roasted peppers, zucchini, or sugar-snap peas. Eating fruits and vegetables reduces your child’s chances of heart disease, cancer, blindness, and stroke later in life. Putting veggies on a sandwich is one way to get more into your child’s diet.
  5. Use whole-wheat bread instead of white bread for sandwiches. Choose breads that list “whole wheat” as the first ingredient. If the main flour listed on the label is “wheat” or “unbleached wheat flour,” the product is not whole grain. Most multi-grain, rye, oatmeal, and pumpernickel breads in the U.S. are not whole grain.
  6. Limit cookies, snack cakes, doughnuts, brownies, and other sweet baked goods. Sweet baked goods are the second leading source of sugar and the fourth leading source of saturated fat in Americans’ diets. Low-fat baked goods can help cut heart-damaging saturated fat from your child’s diet, but even fat-free sweets can crowd out healthier foods like fruit. This nutrition rule does say LIMIT and not eliminate. The key is moderation when it comes to sweets!
  7. Pack baked chips, pretzels, Cheerios, breadsticks, or low-fat crackers instead of potato, corn, tortilla, or other chips made with oil. Avoid empty calories from artery clogging fried chips. Also, beware of Bugles, which are fried in heavily saturated coconut oil. One ounce has as much artery-clogging fat as a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder.
  8. If you pack juice, make sure it’s 100% juice. All fruit drinks are required to list the “% juice” on the label. Watch out for juice drinks like Sunny Delight, Hi-C, Hawaiian Punch, and Capri Sun. With no more than 10% juice, they are just as sugary as soft drinks.
  9. Don’t send prepackaged lunch trays. Oscar Mayer’s Lunchables that come with a treat and a drink get two-thirds of their calories from fat and sugar. They also contain over 1000mg of sodium, which is half the recommendation for the whole day. Making your own healthy alternative is as easy as packing low-fat crackers, low-fat lunchmeat, a piece of fruit, and a box of 100% juice in your child’s lunchbox.
  10. Let your child help pack their lunch. If your child is excited about the foods they are eating, they will be more likely to finish their energy-packed lunch. Allow them to help pick and choose items to put in their lunchbox each night or morning, teaching them the importance of meal planning and responsibility.

Find out more about nutritional coaching

This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here. (And to see what she brings for her lunch, click here!)

Topics: nutrition healthy eating calories lunch kids sodium

Healthy Kids: Exercise May Help Improve Grades in School


Remember bringing your report card home, nervously wondering how your parents were going to punish you for the slacking grades? Parents, remember opening that report card and trying to figure out how to help your child realize the importance of doing well in school and punishing them for their low grade? One idea I never heard from my parents was, “Hey let’s give exercise a try and see if it helps to improve their grades!” But it might be just the thing that helps.

91696708

The Evidence Is In: Active Kids Are Better Learners

For years, parents have been struggling to find ways to get their children focused and driven to work hard in the classroom. Being a former coach, I have seen many kids who were motivated to work hard in their sport; but when it came to their studies the motivation seemed to be lacking. Practice would be filled with endless complaints about teachers, too much homework, or the test they had the next day. But there is a lot of research coming out saying that with just 20 minutes a day of physical activity, your child can improve their grades in school.

In a recent study, after just 20 minutes of walking around the playground, kids tested higher on a reading test than the other students who just sat inside and watched TV. Due to the development of brain cells in aerobic exercise, improvements are made in attention, concentration, focus, problem solving, behavior, and memory. So why not help kids do better in school by simply spending just 20 minutes with them doing some sort of physical activity?

Ways to Get Kids Moving

Here are some quick ideas that I came up with to challenge your kids to get out of their pajamas and into action:

Yard games: Have your kids play tag with the other neighborhood children, or maybe a quick round of catch with the football or baseball. If someone has a trampoline, spending 20 minutes jumping on that could be both fun and beneficial. You could also challenge them to a jump-rope contest or send them out to climb around on the swing set.

  • Sports games: Go out and shoot some hoops or challenge them to a little one-on-one. You could grab a soccer ball and kick it around the yard, or maybe go for a light jog together. And who doesn’t like a bike ride around the neighborhood?
  • Inside activities: Try setting up an obstacle course in the basement that makes them climb, run, jump, crawl, etc. If you have a Wii, the Wii Sports program is both fun and challenging, or you can also exercise through dance.
  • Other ideas: Some other things that I thought of would be to walk the dog around the block, rollerblade to school, create a fun circuit that they could go through, take your kids to swim at the local pool, and even try letting them invite a friend along!

With a short, fun workout, you may see your kids’ grades improve! Be creative and find ways that allow you both to get your bodies moving and get your heart rate up. Give it a try with your kids and see how they do!

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Health Fitness Specialist. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

 

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

Topics: staying active education productivity kids