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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Back To School!

We all probably think, in some way or another, that we could be making healthier choices as far as our diet is concerned. And as much as we want ourselves to be healthy, we want even more to feed our children as healthy as possible. Our child's health is so important, because their young developing bodies are more vulnerable and therefore susceptible to illness. Feeding our kids a healthy, wholesome diet will not only help prevent sick days, but it will also be the most important thing we can do for their report cards. A healthy child will be focused, alert and attentive, allowing them to be at their utmost capacity to learn and perform their best! However, when our kids head off to school we relinquish the power to control everything they eat for a good part of the day. Therefore it is important to get them excited about making healthy choices and then send them off with healthy options so that we can feel confident that they will choose to eat the way we want them to.

Most of our schools unfortunately do not have healthy cafeteria options. Instead the cafeteria is an oasis of fried non-foods, baked goods, sugary sodas and juices. Get kids excited about bringing their lunch from home by providing them with fun ways to pack their lunch. Maybe it's a lunchbox with their favorite colors or characters. A great budget-friendly idea is to let them decorate brown paper bags anyway they want. This can also be a fun family arts and crafts hour each night before bedtime. Make it more eco-friendly by using recycled materials such as your paper grocery bags, or purchasing plain stainless steel canisters and containers that can be reused and decorating them instead. Sweeten the deal by surprising them with hand written notes, stickers or fun little games inside their lunch box.

Finding the time to prepare healthy meals and snacks for our children can be tough, especially for parents that work full time. However we don't want to sacrifice their health by being rushed to find something to send them off to school with. Make it easier on yourself by planning ahead. Set aside a half hour each Sunday evening, or whenever is best, to layout the kids' meals and snacks for the week. Also use this time to make anything that you can in advance. For example, make a batch of a healthy trail mix and separate it out into individual snack-size baggies. Involving the kids will get them more interested in what they are eating, and make them more apt to enjoy it!

Finding the right foods to feed our children can be even more difficult! Every child is going to be different, as far as what they like and are willing to eat. It is important to do your best while staying within realistic boundaries. All the effort in the world to prepare the healthiest meal possible is going to go to waste if your child is going to get to school and not eat it. Start with small, reasonable changes and work your way up. You will be surprised at how much your child will crave less junk foods and more healthy foods as they build healthier habits. In general, stick to healthy, natural, whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats and whole grains. Avoid (as much as possible) hydrogenated oils, trans-fats and processed and refined packaged foods, especially those that contain lots of sugars, artificial colors and artificial flavorings!

Most importantly, nothing will feed our childrens' needs and nurture them as much as love! A home cooked or prepared meal will contain all the love and caring that you put into making it!

Keep It Fresh!
- Jill

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