Wellness Matters Moses Cone
Revving Up and Re-fueling for School:
Your Child’s Nutrition
After the busy holiday season when healthy meal patterns and food choices can not always be a priority, January is a good time to refocus on your child’s meal pattern and foods offered. Think of food as your child’s fuel. If there is not enough fuel or the wrong kind of fuel, your child could run out of energy before the school day if over. Numerous studies have linked school success and adequate nutrition. The conclusion is that poor nutrition and lack of physical activity lead to lower academic achievement. A large New York study found that even healthy, well-nourished children scored lower on problem-solving tests when they skipped breakfast. Skipping any meal can affect your child’s energy level and school performance.
Revving up the day starts with a healthy breakfast but this doesn’t have to require a lot of preparation time. If your child tires of cereal and milk, try a package of instant grits with cheese added; add some fruit and you have a balanced breakfast. Or, get creative and put foods together that your child enjoys such as graham crackers, string cheese and an apple or yogurt with nuts and dried fruit added. Each of these examples includes foods from 3 of the Food Plate groups, which is a good “rule of thumb” when planning meals.
Planning school lunches with your child can be another way to promote healthy choices. And as with any meal or snack, there are always options. To “buy school lunch” or “pack a lunch” is the first decision. Both can be healthy or unhealthy depending on the choices you and your child make. Even though public schools in this area follow the guidelines of the National School Lunch Program, there are still concerns that some of the foods offered are too rich in saturated fat and too low in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. However, research shows that students who eat school meals are more likely to consume milk, meats, grains and vegetables compared to students who don’t, including students who bring lunch from home.
If buying school lunch is the choice, look over the cafeteria menu with your child. Schools usually send a copy of the monthly menus home or it is also available on the school system’s website. Talk to your child about items that are healthier, knowing that it is OK for your child to choose a favorite lunch food occasionally, even if it is higher in fat. Use this as a chance to discuss balancing meals. For example, a hot dog with fruit and a carton of milk is healthier than a hot dog, fries and sweet tea. Encourage fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains such as whole wheat bread.
Packing a lunch also takes planning in order to ensure some healthy choices. Old favorites like peanut butter and jelly are fine but talk to your child about some new ideas.
The following are a few suggestions:
- Turkey/tortilla rollup, pretzels, grapes, milk
- Whole wheat pita pocket stuffed with tuna or egg salad, mandarin orange slices, cookie and milk
- Ham and cheese on an English muffin, carrot-raisin salad, gingersnap cookies, milk
- String cheese, whole wheat crackers, chicken noodle soup, plum, milk
- Kid-size hoagie, baked chips, apple, milk
- Peanut butter on celery sticks, mini cinnamon raisin bagel, orange slices, milk
- Salad with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, diced ham or turkey and light dressing, 4 oz. yogurt, multi-grain crackers, applesauce, boxed juice
- Cold pizza wedges, cucumber slices, pineapple chunks, vanilla wafers, milk
- Low-fat bologna and cheese rollup, yogurt-and–cereal bar, baby carrots, milk
(Remember to keep foods safe. Use an insulated lunch box that includes an ice pack to keep cold foods cold or a thermos to keep hot foods hot.)
Above all, keep in mind that home is the primary place where a child’s eating habits are developed. The foods that parents and primary caregivers make available and choose to eat will have a great deal of influence on the child’s food choices and eating habits.
If you have concerns about your child’s nutrition or eating habits, consider meeting with a dietitian. The LifeStyle Center of Alamance Regional Medical Center offers nutrition counseling by Registered Dietitians as long as we receive a physician referral. If you would like more information or are interested in scheduling an appointment, call The LifeStyle Center at (336) 538-8100.
Submitted by Colleen Russell, RD, LDN
LifeStyle Center, ARMC
Tis the cold and flu season
· Wash your hands properly using soap and water for 20 seconds especially before eating and after using the restroom.
· Don’t share foods, drinks or utensils
· Wipe down germy surfaces ie light switches, door knobs, phones, tables, computers, TV remotes etc.
· Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands
· Drink plenty of fluids ( non Caffeinated )
· Boost your immune system but getting plenty of sleep (8-9 hours nightly) and plenty of exercise. Also eat your fruits and vegetables!!
If you do become ill, please follow these simple rules:
· Cover your cough or sneeze into a tissue, discard soiled tissue and wash your hands
· Get plenty of rest and fluids (non caffeinated)
· Students must not be in school with a fever, vomiting, or diarrhea.
· Students must be symptom-free for 24 hours before they can return to school. Students also should not be taking fever reducing medication and be fever free for 24 hours to return to school. This applies to public areas ie stores, restaurants, sporting events etc
Hope you find this information helpful and please stay healthy.