Nutritionist Emma Baldwin
February means back to school for many families, and this whole change in routine from “holiday mode” back to a normal school schedule can be difficult for kids and parents alike. You can help your children to get back into the swing of things (and preserve your own sanity while you’re at it) by following some of the below tips from the Healtheries team.
SCHOOL LUNCHES For school aged children, the lunchbox makes up a significant part of the diet and should be seen as a way to boost your child’s intake of important nutrients. School lunches should provide a good mix of the major food groups, with at least some fresh fruit and/or veges. Get kids involved in preparing their lunches the night before with ingredients they actually like. Older children can cut up cheese or veges, make salads, or hard- boil eggs. Younger ones can help to make their sandwiches with supervision, and choose their preferred healthy options from a selection you provide.
Healtheries KidsCare Rice Wheels are made from rice and puffed not fried. A healthier treat option containing 65% less fat than regular potato chips. Rice Wheels are low in sugars with less than 1g per serve. These tasty savoury snacks are free from wheat, gluten, contain no added MSG and are made with no artificial colours or preservatives.
Healtheries KidsCare Potato Stix contain 50% less fat than regular potato chips and are low in sugars with less than 1g per serve, making them a great alternative to sugar laden lunchbox fillers. These tasty snacks are made with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, and no added MSG.
Healtheries KidsCare Snacking
BREAKFAST Don’t underestimate the importance of a good morning meal for school kids. Teachers consistently report better attention, performance and interest in learning from children who’ve eaten breakfast. Make sure your kids cover off a good range of the four food groups: grains, milk & milk products, fruit & vegetables and lean meat and alternatives, to provide a good source of carbs, protein and fat. Cereals and milk, scrambled eggs on toast or a fruit smoothie (try adding some Healtheries Ground LSA for extra fibre) are all simple and nutritious options.
EXERCISE Experts recommend children and young people do at least 1 hour of moderate or vigorous physical activity each day, be it at home, at school or over the weekend. This physical activity helps to build strong muscles, bones and joints, support balance and flexibility as well as build self- confidence and social skills among other things. Walking or cycling to school (if possible) is a great way to start the day.
SCREEN TIME Recent research suggests that when it comes to setting rules around screen time, much like the foods we eat, it may be more a case of quality over quantity. In other words, it may not necessarily be the amount, but more the nature of the screen time and how devices are used that matters. Use of digital and social media can create opportunities for early learning, exposure to new ideas and knowledge, increased opportunities for social contact and provide a fun and creative outlet for young people. So rather than counting your child’s screen time, perhaps have a think about what they are consuming (watching, playing or reading) ‘Digital Nutrition’ and ensure that this is of high quality, age appropriate and safe. Getting involved in the digital world with your child also appears to be important for young children.
HOMEWORK Set clear expectations around homework. Talk with kids about how much homework they’re likely to have each day, and when and where they’d prefer to do it. Create an after- school schedule that incorporates a snack, relaxation, play and study. Once you know where they’ll be doing their homework, set that space up to optimise focus for them. That means having the TV off and any game consoles away, and having a container with all the supplies they’re likely to need (pens, pencils, erasers, etc.) easily at hand.
SLEEP Get your child back into a good sleep routine before school goes back. It’s normal for children to stay up a little later over the holiday period, but remember they will need to get up at a set time once school starts. Ideally, in the last week of the holidays, make sure they go to bed earlier to let their bodies adjust. Experts recommend that school- aged children get between 9- 11 hours of sleep each night. So agree a week day bedtime with them, and then set an alarm or notification to go off 30 minutes beforehand.
Benefits of Eating Breakfast for Students. SF Gate. Nov 2018. https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-eating-breakfast-students-7697.html
Activities for children and young people. Ministry of Health. Feb 2018. https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/healthy-living/food-activity-and-sleep/physical-activity/being-active-everyone-every-age/activities-children-and-young-people
How much screen time is too much for kids? It’s complicated. The Guardian. May 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/may/31/how-much-screen-time-is-too-much-for-kids-parents-advice-children-digital-media
How much sleep do you really need? Sleep Health Foundation. Oct 2011. https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/public-information/fact-sheets-a-z/how-much-sleep-do-you-really-need.html