Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Food for Thought

Back to school can be a time of mixed emotions for most parents – happy to send kids off after a chaotic summer but sad to see their babies growing up. No matter how you are feeling about sending your kids back to school, one thing is for sure; healthy foods help students do their best in school, clubs and sports.

Children consume up to half of their meals in school and whether they are bringing a lunch from home or taking advantage of the wonderful school lunch programs, the meals should be packed with whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products.

  • Whole Grains make kids feel full longer. They help them stay alert and focused. Be sure to check the food labels for the word “whole”.

  • Lean Protein foods are meat or meat alternatives like poultry, nut butters and legumes. Be sure they are low in fat and that you choose a variety.

  • Fruits & Vegetables offer a great source of fiber in your child’s diet. Pack them extra fruits and veggies, that way they will reach for a healthy snack if they find themselves hungry during the day.

  • Low-Fat Dairy provides an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D for growing bodies. Be sure you are offering low-fat or fat-free options including milk, yogurt and cheese.

In the North Country we have free or low-cost school lunch programs to take advantage of. School meals are not only convenient but are also packed with nutrients that kids need with a focus on low-sodium and low-fat options.  The best part? School lunch is tailored to your child’s needs! Portion sizes are based on your child’s age and developmental stage. You can also save time and simplify your family’s morning routine by taking advantage of the school breakfast programs.

Whether at home or at school healthier eating patterns have been linked to better academic performance. Explore www.choosemyplate.gov as a family to kick-start your school year the healthy way!

Molly Flynn, Senior Public Health Educator
Division of Health Planning and Promotion