According to researchers at the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every three children in the United States is overweight and, or at risk of becoming overweight. Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. Children who are obese are likely to be obese as adults. Short-term statistics show that obese children are at risk for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and are more likely to have pre-diabetes. Long-term side effects are more extreme. Increased risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, stroke and osteoarthritis.
One of the main contributing factors to childhood obesity is an unhealthy diet. Children are filling up on high sugar, processed foods that have little or no nutritional value. The key to a healthy lifestyle is as much common sense as it is scientific. We should all strive to maintain a diet that includes a wide variety of foods that contain complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and good fats. This back to school season, it’s extremely important for parents to educate children about eating healthy and start establishing good healthy life style habits that will last a lifetime. Children who eat nutritious foods have more energy, focus better and do better in school.
Start with eating breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day. Make it a priority for you and your kids. Eating breakfast will jump start your day by adding fuel to your body as well as your brain. It’s been proven that children who eat breakfast perform better in school. Keeping breakfast quick and easy is also important. Plan ahead and have ‘easy to eat’ foods readily available. Take the weekends to shop and plan for next week’s meals.
Try these quick, easy and healthy breakfast alternatives:
- Whole grain cereal sweetened with fruit juice and a piece of fruit
- Breakfast pizza: toasted English muffin spread with marinara sauce, topped with a scrambled egg, light sprinkle of cheese and toasted
- Homemade granola with milk and a piece of fruit
- Yogurt and an apple
- Breakfast burrito: scrambled egg, black beans and salsa wrapped in a whole grain tortilla
- Whole grain toast with almond or peanut butter and fruit sweetened jelly
- Toasted whole grain bagel spread with peanut or almond butter, topped with slices of banana
- Toasted English muffin with a hard boiled egg and a bowl of berries
- Almond or peanut butter spread on apple slices
- Fruit smoothie with toasted whole grain bagel and fruit sweetened jelly
- Scrambled eggs, a slice of American cheese on a toasted bagel
Coming up with healthy back-to-school lunches that your kids will actually eat can be a little more challenging. A balanced meal including a variety of foods will provide many benefits to your child and ensure they are well nourished and energized for learning. Getting your child involved in their lunch preparation is key. They will more likely eat what they take to school if they have a part in the decision making process. Studies have shown that children who help pick and prepare their meals are more likely to eat them. To avoid children from getting bored with their lunch, add variety instead of the typical sandwich.
Try these quick, easy and healthy lunch alternatives:
- Almond crusted chicken fingers
- Whole grain pasta salad with diced chicken
- Hummus with veggies and whole grain pita bread
- Whole grain crackers with peanut butter
- Brown rice bowls topped with meat and veggies
- Thermos ready fruit smoothie
- Taco turkey lettuce wrap
- Mini burritos made with brown rice and black beans in a whole grain tortilla with tomato salsa. Can be heated or eaten cold.