Back to School Nutrition Tips
Back to School Nutrition tips for a healthy family. Getting back into the school routine can be stressful to say the least. Busy mornings, slow moving children (and parents), struggles to get out of bed, brush teeth & eat breakfast, forgotten assignments, making lunches.. the list goes on and on. And that’s just for our children! Us parents have our own ‘morning chores’ to get up and out for work as well.
With the chaos, stress and general busy-ness, eating healthy, nourishing meals is low on the list of priorities. But it shouldn’t be and it doesn’t have to be.
Below are some ideas for simple breakfasts, healthy lunchboxes, on-the-go snacks and easy dinners so as often as possible, the whole family can sit down together to eat.
Healthy Eating Principles
1. Eat food in its most natural state possible.
No surprise here, the more processed a food is, the less nutrients it has and the more additives/preservatives it has. The whole apple is better than applesauce. Baked potatoes are better than chips and so on.
2. Read nutrition & ingredients labels carefully – look out for hidden sugar, additives and preservatives.
Fruity yoghurts, for example, have 1-2 tsp of sugar and no fibre whereas plain, organic Greek yoghurt with fresh fruit has only the sugar from the fruit AND fibre from the fruit to slow down the release of sugar into the bloodstream.
Other foods to look out for include Bolognese sauce, granola bars, cereals, salad dressings, protein bars, red sauce, spreads, sauces, chocolate milk, sports drinks, energy drinks, prepared meals and prepared soups.
3. Water is your choice of liquid.
It’s not necessary (or healthy) or overload children with sports drinks (Lucozade), fizzy drinks, fruity waters or juice. Stick with plain water. If your child doesn’t drink enough water on its own, add a squeeze of fresh lemon or fresh fruit / veg such as watermelon, cucumber, mint or berries.
4. Keep healthy food in the house, and processed foods out of the house.
If it’s there, you and your children will eat it. If it’s not, they won’t.
5. Optimising your children’s health and diet starts in the kitchen.
Get your kids involved in making meals or snacks. Allow your kids to dish out their own food on to their plates. Make meals fun. Pancakes or crepes with different toppings, make your own pizzas or Mexican meal nights are fun because there are lots of dishes to pick and choose from. As a parent, you decide what to serve and the child decides what they’d like to eat and how much.
Simple Breakfast Ideas
- Use porridge oats or steel cut oats instead of instant porridge.
- Buy organic oats over conventional oats
- Try overnight oats, easy to put together the night before.
- Add toppings or ‘sprinkles’ for the young children😊 hemp seeds, chia seeds, desiccated coconut, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, tahini, peanut or almond butter are all ways to add protein, healthy fats, fibre, texture and flavour. Top with fresh fruit.
Choose organic corn flakes or granola over conventional, non-organic. Same with oats. Conventional crops are sprayed with glyphosate, which keeps the grains from getting damp and mouldy when harvested. Glyphosate has been linked to health problems such as gut disorders, altered microbiomes and even cancers. You don’t need to buy organic everything, but if you eat a lot of cereal, it’s worth spending the extra money to go organic here. There is plenty of choice in your local supermarket (Tesco / Sainsburys).
Many people have plain toast, or add a bit of jam or butter. My recommendation is to add some protein and healthy fat to balance blood sugar levels and improve energy. Don’t forget, toast can be savoury too (think tomatoes, avocado, feta cheese and chili).
- The energy: toast, bagel, sourdough bread
- The fat: butter, olive oil, coconut oil
- The protein: peanut butter, ricotta cheese, halloumi, avocado
- The colour: nectarines & blueberries, strawberries, purple cabbage
- The sprinkles: chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds
4. Prepare breakfast in advance
Chia seed puddings and overnight oats can be made the night before. A tray of healthy oat bars or a batch of spelt pancakes or waffles can be made in advance and kept in the freezer.
Healthy Lunchbox Ideas
- Raspberry & almond butter or tahini (sesame seed paste)
- Cheese & veggies
- Banana and peanut butter
- Blackberry & full fat cream cheese
- Avocado, hummus & salad
- Halloumi, hummus & sprouts
2. Dips with fresh veggies
- Bolognese sauce
- Hummus (try courgette or beetroot hummus)
- Greek yoghurt
- Black bean dip
- Tahini sauce (tahini, splash of water or yoghurt, pinch of salt)
- Herb dip (Greek yoghurt, mixed herbs, garlic powder)
- Any nut or seed butter
Chopped veggies: carrots, cucumber sticks, cherry tomatoes, sliced avocado, sliced peppers (red, orange, green), mangetout, peas, corn
3. Easy dinners
- Cook one big meal (Instant pot, crockpot)
- Batch cook & freeze
- Tinned lentils/beans with grain free pasta & veg (I love red lentil pasta with cannellini beans, spinach, cherry tomatoes and pesto)
- Make your own pizza with tortillas or pitta bread, tomato sauce (tomato paste + pesto), veg, cheese & a cracked egg on top
- Vegetable & lentil soups (choose a veg, tinned lentils or beans and a good quality vegetable or chicken stock)
- Order a weekly veg and fruit box so you’re guaranteed to have fresh produce in the house. Keep your cupboards stocked with lentils, pasta, rice and spices and you’ll have a healthy meal ready in 20 minutes.
Healthy Snack Ideas
1. If you have time to prep, try these…
- Fresh cut fruit: apples, pineapple, mango, oranges
- Veggies: cucumber, carrot, pepper slices
- Healthy, homemade muffins, banana bread, oatmeal raisin cookies (low sugar of course!)
2. No time to prep, try these…
- Additive / junk free packaged snacks such as Yo-Yo snacks & (sulphite free) dried fruit instead of Haribos
- Nak’d bars instead of chocolate bars
- Dark chocolate (85% or higher) instead of milk chocolate
- Oranges and apples travel well in jam-packed book bags, as do veg like mangetout, a carrot or mini peppers
- Rice or oat cakes
- Cheese chunks (Organic Babybel, Cathedral Cheese)
3. Instead of sweets, try these…
- Dark chocolate or cacao nibs
- Berries / cherries
- Apples & nut butter (or tahini, sunflower seed butter)
- Frozen fruit (grapes, bananas, berries)
- Frozen banana ‘nice’ cream
- Coconut yoghurt with fresh fruit
Finally, don’t forget the 80/20 rule when it comes to Back to School Nutrition Tips into a habit of keeping and offering healthy, home-made meals at home takes the stress off when you decide on a last-minute takeaway or family meal out. It’s ok if you and your family aren’t perfect, no-one is, but cultivating healthy habits means you’ll all come back them after eating less healthy meals and snacks. If you are interested in discussing personalised nutrition for you or your family please don’t hesitate to contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org