Lessons on the Lunch Box

By Susan B Latham, M.S.,R.D., clinical dietitian at CHOC

September not only marks the beginning of school but also makes us think about planning meals and getting more organized. A refresher in nutrition can help make sure the kids are getting the best.

Families are busy and time is a precious commodity so a little planning can go a long way concerning meals for the school age child. Parents should look beyond a single meal to ensure that children are given healthy choices all day. If the child doesn’t eat (at one meal) healthy snacks later on can make up for it. Most families know the basics of a nutritious diet: whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy foods and of course lots of vegetables and fruits.

Important tips for smarter eating:

1.  Don’t skip breakfast. Studies show that kids that eat breakfast do better in school, get better grades, are absent less and have better focus on school. The older the kids get, the less time they seem to have for breakfast. Some ideas for quick healthy breakfast are:

– Fruit smoothie made with fresh/frozen fruit, milk/yogurt/small amount of 100% fruit juice

– Whole grain cereal/ oatmeal with fresh fruit and low fat milk

– Peanut butter on whole grain toast and fruit

2. Limit consumption of juice to 4-6 OZ for younger kids and 8-10 OZ for older kids. Too much juice can lead to obesity in children. It is much better for children to eat their fruit rather than drink it. Primary beverages should be water and recommended amount of milk.

3. Don’t forget protein. Protein is an important part of a child’s diet as it is important for growth and helps curb their appetite. Good sources of protein are: low-fat yogurt, string cheese, hard- boiled eggs. These are easy things to put in the lunch box for meal or snacks.

4. Don’t resist what a child might choose for a packed lunch. As long as there is a protein a fruit and vegetable and milk or yogurt the most important ingredients are there. Taking children to the grocery store can be a good learning experience for them in making decisions on what to buy as it relates to good health.

5. Review the school lunch menu with your children and make decisions together on what lunches might be healthy to buy at school. This can be an education process for your child as well as yourself.

6. Try to serve whole foods at home rather that processed foods. You can ease into this gradually if it is a huge change for the family.  Healthy eating is a gift you can gift you can give your family, which will last generations!

7. Don’t forget family dinners. Studies show that children who have family dinners are less likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors.

8. Above all, adults need to set a good example. Children will follow the example of their parents, eventually.

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Helpful Tips for the First Day of School

Many Orange County students went back to school this week. For others, their first day back is just around the corner.

Check out these tips recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, to help ease those nerves on your child’s first day back at school.

  • Remind your child that there are probably a lot of students who are uneasy about the first day of school. Teachers know that students are anxious and will make an extra effort to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible.
  • Point out the positive aspects of starting school: It will be fun! She’ll see old friends and meet new ones. Refresh her positive memories about previous years, when she may have returned home after the first day with high spirits because she had a good time.
  • Make sure your child is prepared with all the supplies and tools that she needs to start the school year on the right foot. Choose a backpack, for example, with wide padded shoulder straps and a padded back. Organize the backpack to use all of its compartments. The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of your child’s body weight.
  • Remind your child that the first day of school is her first chance to find her way around a new school, or learn new pathways in her old school. It’s a lot to learn in one day, so it may help to write a few notes down. Older kids, for example, may want to jot down their locker combination, what time lunch starts, or what additional supplies they need to bring with them on the second day of school.
  • Find another child in the neighborhood with whom your youngster can walk to school or ride with on the bus.
  • If you feel it is appropriate, drive your child (or walk with her) to school and pick her up on the first day.

Related articles:

  • How to Make a Healthy School Lunch
    Brush up on which nutrients your child needs to power them through the school day, and get new ideas for making a healthy school lunch.
  • Back to School with Healthy Lunches
    By: Sarah Kavlich, RD, CLEC, clinical dietitian at CHOC As summer comes to a close and the school year kicks into gear, it’s time to establish a routine that works for ...
  • Back-to-School Tips
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Getting Back into the Scholastic Swing of Things

Transitioning from summertime fun to a back-to-school routine isn’t always easy, especially when it comes to homework. Here are a few tips to help get your children back on track.

  • Provide your kids with the appropriate back-to-school supplies. (Check your local school for recommendations.)
  • Go over the ground rules for homework, including when and where studying needs to be done.
  • Make sure kids are doing homework in a quiet place, free of distractions.
  • Encourage your kids to turn off the cell phones or limit the texting during study time. The same applies for social media activities.
  • Don’t take over school work or projects for your children. Instead, make yourself available to answer questions.
  • Review homework assignments weekly or nightly, as appropriate, to ensure your children understand everything and are tracking on due dates.
  • Encourage your kids to develop good habits, including listening in class, taking notes and asking questions.
  • Maintain an open channel of communications with your child’s teacher throughout the school year.

Whether it’s the first day of school, or the last, make sure your kids know they can always come to you for homework help or for any other issue or concern.

What tips do you have for getting back into the scholastic swing of things?

Related articles:

  • How to Make a Healthy School Lunch
    Brush up on which nutrients your child needs to power them through the school day, and get new ideas for making a healthy school lunch.
  • Back to School with Healthy Lunches
    By: Sarah Kavlich, RD, CLEC, clinical dietitian at CHOC As summer comes to a close and the school year kicks into gear, it’s time to establish a routine that works for ...
  • Back-to-School Tips
    Picking out backpacks, shopping for clothes, and stocking up on paper and pencils are a tell-tale sign that school is coming. For some, the new school year begins this week. ...

Homework Help for Parents

It’s a given that some children will always hate doing homework no matter what parents say or do. But these suggestions should help with the battle between study and TV.

• Establish a nonnegotiable, daily homework time. A child should read or work on a personal project on days no homework is assigned.
• Establish a quiet place for study that works best for your child. Some children do as well on the living-room floor as they do at a desk in the bedroom.
• Ask about assignments and whether your child understands them. Help if necessary, but don’t do the work.
• Always show interest in your child’s education. Don’t ask, “How was school?” You’re likely to get little more than “OK.” Instead, ask about the day’s math lesson or problems on a dreaded test. Know the books being read, the papers being written, and the projects being assigned.  (Back-to-school night is a great opportunity for you to ask your child’s teacher about expectations for homework – what kind of work, how much time should be devoted a week, etc.)

For more helpful tips, visit www.choc.org.

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