By Carolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD —
Heading back to school can be an exciting but stressful time. Good bye to the slow pace of summer and hello to early mornings, rushing out the door. It can be easy to get overwhelmed by a hectic schedule and start ditching healthy behaviors. Planning ahead and creating a healthy back-to-school routine can make for a smooth transition for you and your kiddos.
Here are some tips for a seamless (and healthy) back to school transition:
Get ahead of the game by starting your bedtime routine a week BEFORE going back to school. This way, those first mornings will run like clockwork. Make sure your kids are getting adequate sleep for their age. Kids that do not get enough sleep may be cranky, have trouble getting along with others, and have trouble paying attention.
Set your alarm to make time for a healthy breakfast before school. Starting the day with a healthy breakfast is linked to better concentration, lower cholesterol, and a decrease risk of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity in kids. Short on time in the morning? You can make and freeze these easy Healthy Breakfast Burritos for a grab-and-go breakfast, or whip up this delicious Blueberry Mango Smoothie
A well-balanced lunch can help keep your kid’s energy levels up for the rest of the day. A balanced lunch contains whole grains, fruit, vegetables, dairy and a protein. For example, try a whole wheat pita stuffed with hummus, cucumber and tomatoes with a side of strawberries and a Greek yogurt. Use insulated lunch boxes and thermos to help keep cold food cold and warm food warm. For more lunch ideas check out the Back to School board on Pinterest.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that kids get in at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. After a long day of learning have your kids blow off steam by riding bikes, running, swimming, skating, or playing outside. Exercise can be a family affair, as well. Take a walk, play a sport or a bike ride as a family. This is a great way to spend time together and promote physical fitness for everyone.
Family dinner is a nice way to catch up on everyone’s day and teach your kids about healthy eating. Research indicates that when families eat together, kids are more likely to eat healthfully, do better in school and have higher self-esteem. To get more buy-in from your kids, let them participate in preparing dinner. This helps them feel more invested in your meals, teaches them important cooking skills, and can eventually be a time saver for you.
You may want to introduce your kids to as many hobbies, sports, skills as possible, but kids can get overworked and stressed too. Not only do kids experience stress, but they are effected by your stress level, as well. Be realistic about what fits into your family’s schedule. Make sure there is still room for play, relaxation, and family time.
Carolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.