Back to School Nutrition

CerealThe summer has flown by too quickly and now it’s time for kids to go back to school! Parents are stocking up on school supplies to prepare their children with all the necessary tools they need for class. One thing that is often overlooked during the hustle and bustle of getting our kids off to school in the morning is making a balanced and healthy breakfast. It doesn’t have to be expensive or take a lot of preparation to be healthy. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it literally means “breaking” the “fast” and therefore it is crucial to fuel properly in the morning or else you will literally be “running on fumes” (low energy, no fuel).

 

Food that is healthy does not have to take on the stereotype of “tasting like cardboard.” Many parents will feed their children a glass of juice (approximately 20-35 grams of sugar per 8 ounce glass) paired with a choice of convenient breakfast food (i.e. Pop tart, donut, croissant, cinnamon roll or sugary cereal such as Fruit Loops, Lucky Charms, Frosted Flakes, Cinnamon Toast Crunch to name a few) which is a recipe for disaster. Many parents are unaware of the drastic effect that these foods have on blood sugar levels. These foods are packed with refined sugar and contain no nutritional value (i.e. fiber, vitamins or minerals). Excessive amounts of refined sugars are directly linked to weight gain, childhood obesity, hypertension, headaches, fatigue, Type 2 Diabetes, metabolic syndrome and acne.

 

IMG_2190Forbes stated that in 2012, Americans consumed about 130 pounds of sugar per year (equivalent to 765 grams of sugar or 191 teaspoons) and the number continues to rise. Americans consume 10 times more sugar than other food additives. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 9.5 teaspoons of sugar per day. The average adult consumes 22 teaspoons (88 grams) per day and the average child consumes 32 teaspoons (128 grams) per day. Sugar is highly addictive, so the more you have, the more you want. It is a vicious cycle that can be broken by making lifestyle behavior modifications and incorporating healthier foods and beverages on a regular basis.

 

There are so many healthy foods that children enjoy and believe to be delicious, but are not consumed often enough. It is just about being aware as a parent, doing your research and learning how to read a nutrition facts label. It is important to avoid all foods with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and partially or fully hydrogenated oils (trans fats) and foods high is saturated fats. These unhealthy fats (i.e. trans and saturated fats) contribute to increasing LDL (bad cholesterol), clogging arteries and increasing heart rated conditions.

Healthy Breakfast options for kids (or adults) include the following: Oatmeal

  1. Oatmeal (steel cut, old fashioned oats or gluten free oats) mixed with ½ cup blueberries, 1/2 banana (optional), a touch of cinnamon, a handful of chopped almonds and a splash of almond milk.
  2. Note: It’s important to avoid the instant oatmeal with >10 grams of sugar. Try Nature’s Path or Kashi instant oatmeal; which has higher fiber and less sugar.

 

  1. 1-2 scrambled eggs (cage free) or hard oiled eggs with 1 slice of 100% whole wheat toast (or Food for Life Brown rice bread if you are gluten free)

 

  1. 1 cup low fat, plain Greek yogurt with ½ cup strawberries, a sprinkle of cinnamon and handful of slivered almonds (as tolerated)

 

  1. 1-2 Kashi waffles with one sliced nectarine on top and a teaspoon of maple syrup or honey

 

  1. Toast1-2 slices of 100% whole wheat toast (or Food for Life Brown rice bread if you are gluten free) with 1-2 tablespoons almond butter or natural peanut butter (as tolerated) with 1 small banana sliced on top

 

 

  1. Cereal¾ cup of Kashi or Nature’s Path (high fiber, high protein, low sugar cereal) with Silk unsweetened almond milk or lowfat milk and 1 cup mixed berries on top

 

 

 

 

Skip the fruit juices and processed foods filled with refined sugars; which will not allow for your children to have proper growth and development. Say no to “cookies for breakfast” or “sweets and candy as a reward.” Starting the day off with balanced nutrition for your child will increase concentration and performance in the classroom, increase strength and endurance for physical activity and sports, and improve problem solving skills and hand-eye coordination.

 

 

 

_E0A4198To learn more about healthy breakfast ideas, or customized nutrition or fitness plans for yourself, your children or a family meal plan, consult Courtney Sullivan, Registered Dietitian, Certified Personal Trainer, Group Personal Training Specialist and Founder of Nutrition for Body and Mind. Sign up for your appointment today! CLICK HERE.