The months of August and September signals the end of summer and back to school for many families. While the summer is all for fun and play, the start of the school season is a good time to get your family back on track and install new healthy habits for the year ahead. Follow these simple and easy tips to help get your family off to a great start.
1. Breakfast –It's the most important meal of the day. The mornings can be hectic, but don’t skip breakfast. Children are still developing until late in their teenage years and need a nutritious dose of fuel to keep up with their growing needs. Breakfast will also help with their focus and concentration while in class. Pick nutritious and filling foods: whole grain cereal or oatmeal with a nut-based milk, protein-rich Greek yogurt with granola and fresh fruit, homemade raw protein balls with Hawaiian Spirulina, smoothies, or eggs with sautéed veggies. Sit down and eat at the table if at all possible, instead of on-the-go or in the car.
2. School and After School Snacks -Pre-packaged snacks may seem like an easy and sometimes healthy option, but be sure to read the ingredients on the label. Many pre-packaged crackers, cookies, and chips contain loads of sugar, salt and fat from highly processed oils (like canola or soy) and should not be used as a main source of nutrition. Instead, opt for fruits and veggies that are high in vitamins and antioxidants. To make this easy, wash and cut up produce at the beginning of the week and keep it in the refrigerator for quick access for the kids. Some good veggie options are baby carrots, celery, cucumbers, or fruits like berries, apples, or bananas with nut butter. Spirulina popcorn is another healthy snack option. It’s also important to limit liquid calories coming from beverages like soda or juice. Sugary drinks have no nutrients and can lead to spiked blood sugar. Instead, try water, still or sparkling, with a twist of lemon or lime, or water down fruit juices like orange juice.
3. Exercise -
Aim for at least an hour of exercise each day for your kids to reap benefits such as feeling less stressed, more focused, building confidence, maintaining a healthy weight and building strong bones and muscles, plus improved sleep. Have your child join a team sport where there are structured practices weekly or involve them in daily walks, hikes, or biking. Exercise can be a fun activity that will provide lifetime physical and mental benefits as well as bring a family together.
4. Family Dinners -
Involve your children in meal planning and cooking dinner. Teaching them that healthy meals can also taste good will help build a good relationship for your child and food. Make vegetables the main focus of the meal, with sides like brown rice or whole wheat pasta and a small 4 oz. serving of protein like fish or chicken. A simple dinner option is the Super S Salad which is packed full of antioxidants like astaxanthin from the salmon and spirulina that can be mixed into a dressing. If possible, be sure to take the time to sit down together to eat dinner each night as a family without distractions like cell phones, computers, or the TV. This quality time can be a great way to stay involved in your child’s life.
5. Sleep -
Studies have shown that teens who get less than 6 ½ hours of sleep per night were more likely to have elevated blood pressure and less focus in school. Children should be getting at least nine hours of sleep per night to keep up with their growing bodies. To help achieve this, set a bedtime and wake up time and stay consistent throughout the week. Turn off electronic devices at least a half hour before bedtime and keep them out of the bedroom to help calm busy minds.