Fueling Kids for the School Year

Fueling your kids for success in school is easier said than done. More and more research is pointing to how important healthy eating and good nutrition can be to impact test scores and attention levels in the classroom. As new routines have been set into place for this school year, it is a good time to put into practice some meal and snack habits that can help your kids be successful in school.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner; every meal is important, but there can be challenges with each of them. Following are some things to consider for each of these important meal times:

Breakfast

We have all heard that breakfast is important, but for kids (and adults) it’s an easy meal to skip when the trade-off is an extra 15 minutes of sleep. But kids and adults alike need that nutrient boost to start the day. It doesn’t have to be a complicated meal, but a breakfast that includes complex whole grains, a protein source and a serving of fruit is a great way to get your student’s day off to a good start.  Many schools are now offering breakfast to the kids before the school day starts, so take advantage of this if your child does not eat breakfast at home.

Lunch

Most kids are hungry by the time lunch rolls around. But the lure of getting to play outside or socialize with friends can make for a hurried lunch or a skipped lunch. It’s important to fuel-up at noon for the rest of the afternoon. The United State Department of Agriculture child nutrition regulations now provide for more whole grains, more fruits and vegetables, low fat or fat free milk, lean protein and less fat. Encourage your child to eat the school lunch or pack a lunch with healthy choices.

Dinner

Research studies have shown that kids who eat family meals together three or more times per week are more likely to be in a normal weight range and have healthier dietary and eating patterns than those who don’t. Family meals are a great time to connect at the end of the school and work day. While recapping the events of the day, you can share a healthy dinner together. If dinner is going to be delayed due to the numerous after-school activities that kids have, encourage your student to make healthy snack choices. These snacks choices could include foods such as:  whole grains, fruit, yogurt, low fat milk, string cheese, vegetables, etc.

By Cheryl Rude

Registered Dietitian at Avera Marshall