GET YOUR KIDS BACK TO SCHOOL ON A HEALTHY NOTE
Going back to school is not an easy task both for children as well as parents. A new term, new classmates and the getting back to a schedule of sleeping and waking early, extracurricular activities and a million classes are definitely challenging after a two-month long break. For parents, the task of getting kids prepared, dropping them off and fetching them and even preparing meals are tasks that need a major reshuffle in terms of priorities.
The responsibility however of ensuring that your child stays healthy through this period and the gruelling school year is top on the list. This is where the nutritional needs of children come into focus. The lack of time or proper preparation can lead to hastily prepared meals and a reliance on processed foods to supplement healthy and nutritious freshly prepared meals.
Ms. Juliot Vinolia Rajarathinam, Clinical Dietitian and Consultant Nutritionist at Medeor 24×7 Hospital Dubai said, “We live in an age where the consumption processed foods, especially starchy, sugary foods is growing. Children today are consuming far too many empty calories that do not complement their healthy growth and development, which is why is the responsibility of parents to ensure that their kids eat healthy and nutritious meals that help them face demands of growing up as well as studying and playing sports.”
Ms. Juliot has some simple tips to ensure that the nutritional needs of children are easily addressed:
Plan a menu for the week for breakfast as well as lunch. Make a list of the required ingredients and food items and shop for them on the weekend before the school week begins. Doing this will give you enough time to check labels of snacks and other foods that you pack for snacks or lunch. Also, talk to you kids about the foods they enjoy and ask them to help you set a nutritious menu, as it will lay a good foundation for healthy eating.
Ensure that breakfast is a nutritious and energizing meal. Healthy cereals, eggs, yogurt, fruit and nuts are healthy options. Studies show that children who eat a good breakfast are likely to have better attention span at school as well as perform better.
Avoid buying or giving your children processed, packaged foods. Read labels carefully while buying them, as lot of products have additives and hidden sugars that lead to hyperactivity and even obesity.
When preparing and packing lunch, give your child balanced meals that include a protein, a vegetable and a starch. Whole wheat bread or wraps with organic cheese, salmon and chicken, or whole wheat pastas with loads of veggies are a great option. Complex, whole-grains contain nutrients such as folate, B vitamins and fiber. The latter provides energy and is important for digestion while the other nutrients help with immunity and brain function. Experiment with different recipes that incorporate greens with poultry and meat.
Ensure that your children have good hydration to prevent them from fatigue especially on sports days. Avoid giving them sodas and sugar laden juices; instead give them water with some lemon juice squeezed in or even juicy fruit such as oranges.
These simple steps will not only give your children the nutrition they but also ensure they are healthy through the academic year.