Start the school year off healthy!

Summer has come to an end and now we’re back to reality.  September marks the start of the school year and getting into a new routine.  Let’s make sure this school year begins with healthy habits that continue indefinitely for the whole family.

Plan to have a balanced breakfast with your kids every morning. Breakfast helps with focus and may help improve academic performance.  Examples of healthy breakfast, include

  • Oatmeal with fat free milk, walnuts, raisins, flaxseeds
  • Greek yogurt with berries and granola
  • Omelet with spinach, onions, peppers, low fat cheese and whole wheat toast, fruit
  • Whole grain cereal with fat free milk with added fresh banana, walnuts and flaxseeds

Pack your own lunch and your children’s.  School lunches are not always the healthiest and neither is take out at work.  Planning and preparing your lunch will help prevent the purchase of fast foods.  Try tuna salad made with avocado instead of mayo on whole-wheat toast or whole wheat crackers with a fruit on the side or a low sodium turkey and low fat cheese sandwich with lettuce and tomato on whole wheat bread, with a fruit on the side.  If you prefer, prepare a large salad with lettuce, tomato, onions, cucumbers, grilled chicken or tuna, sunflower seeds, walnuts with olive oil and vinegar with a fruit on the side or raisins in the salad.

Also, pack healthy snacks for the day to help prevent grabbing of unhealthy junk foods for adults and kids. These include;

  • Yogurt with fruit
  • Carrots/celery with peanut butter
  • Nuts and dried fruit for homemade trail mix
  • Low fat mozzarella string cheese
  • Bell peppers, celery, carrots with hummus
  • Tuna with whole-wheat crackers.

Plan to have dinner with the whole family for quality time and to ensure your kids see you enjoying healthy foods.  Kids can be meticulous eaters and seeing their parents role model healthy eating can make a big difference in their willingness to try new healthy foods.  And plan group physical activity with the family. It can be a walk in the park, dancing, online zumba videos, sports, etc… Being physically active is not only healthy, but it is also a time to bond with your children.

Make this new school year the start of healthier habits. Once you start, continue these healthy habits for the whole year!

Jennifer Seleem is a registered dietitian/nutritionist with the Institute for Weight Loss at Hackensack Meridian Health Raritan Bay Medical Center-Old Bridge. The Institute provides weight loss surgery and support for individuals seeking weight loss and have been unable to lose weight through conventional dieting, exercise or weight loss medication.  To attend a free seminar, which occurs three times a month, or to make an appointment with Jennifer for nutrition counseling, call 1-855-TIME-4-ME.


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