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Back To School Nutrition
by Amy Carlson, MS, RD, LD

BACK TO SCHOOL! The school bell is ringing and moms and dads everywhere are getting their kids back in the swing of the new year. With the new year comes new commitments, more time constraints and for some "school year resolutions". It's a good time to reevaluate your kids' nutrition and what's going in your kids lunch! I get lots of questions this time of year regarding "school lunches", or the famous question…"how can I get my kids to eat healthier". One of the first questions I ask back to the parents is "well, how are you eating?" Kids mimic what they see. If mom/dad are using peanut m&m's to make it through the afternoon or skipping breakfast….kids will follow their lead. Where do you start with your kids? Start with the basics. It isn't beneficial for your kids to skip breakfast. They will experience a "low", their metabolism will sit dormant and you there appetite will often increase (especially for sweets) later in the day. They need to eat breakfast everyday! What are some quick ideas (besides POPTARTS)? Have your kids try some of these easy but balanced breakfasts: whole wheat toast with peanut butter and a glass of low fat milk; a small bowl of high fiber cereal with low fat milk and fruit; low fat yogurt mixed with cereal; peanut butter and jelly sandwich or even a balanced energy bar (i.e, Luna Bar or Whole Foods Everyday 40/30/30 bar) is better than no breakfast at all.

What about kids' lunches? First and foremost get an idea of what your kids are eating for lunch. Many, many kids take money to school only to spend it on high fat, low nutrient foods such as fast food, (tacos, pizza or hamburgers) and forfeit any fruits, vegetables or lean protein. Ask them what they eat; some of them may be skipping lunch all together. Ask your kids what they would like to eat? Then compromise and put together a lunch that is both satisfying but nutritious as well. Things to shoot for…watch the fat! If your child insists on a hamburger then pair it with fruit and baked chips instead of fries and a soda. Encourage variety, portions, lower fat and at least trying some fruits and veggies.

Kids are often very hungry after school and they hear "wait until dinner!" The problem with this is that kids get too hungry and may overeat during and after dinner to make up for those lost calories. Encourage an after school snack that's satisfying. Examples may be graham crackers with milk, fruit with peanut butter, bowl of vegetable soup with crackers, vegetables with low fat ranch, whole wheat tortilla with low fat cheese or even a ½ cup trail milk. Finally, no matter what, encourage exercise in your kids. Once school starts, kids tend to sit in front of computers, schoolbooks and the television. They need to expend calories every day. Go for a bike ride, play catch, or walk the dog. Get them moving! Now what about you parents? Take everything you just read and apply it to yourself. Eat breakfast, rethink your lunch, munch on low fat snacks and exercise!! If you take a look at your intake and exercise you may find some of the reasons why your kids struggle to make good choices. Make it a family project to help eachother set some nutritious and exercise goals and work towards them. It's a great time to make some changes! You can do it!

Amy B. Carlson, MS, RD, LD is a registered dietitian and consults clients in the greater Houston area. To contact Amy for an appointment call 713.978.1713 or e-mail her at abcdietitian@houston.rr.com.

View Amy's Bio
View our frequently asked nutrition questions & answers




Weight Training
Lat Pulldowns
Pulldowns are a great exercise for the back muscles but avoid pulling the bar behind the head. Pull the bar down in front of the body toward the collar bone and with the bar just below your chin. Pulling the bar behind the head puts undue stress on the shoulders and rotator cuff.
Running
Avoiding Shin Splints
Do you have lower leg pain or shin splints from running? Running on hard surfaces, worn out running shoes and weak calf muscles could be the culprit. Try running on soft trails, buying a new pair of running shoes or adding calf exercises to your weight training routine.
Walking
The Talk Test
A great way to make sure you are staying in your aerobic fat-burning range is the talk test. If you cannot comfortably carry on a conversation with your walking partner you probably need to bring down the intensity to assure yourself that you are burning fat.
Fat Burning
Your Anaerobic Threshold
A great way to make sure you are burning fat during cardio sessions is knowing your anaerobic threshold or where your heart rate zone needs to be to burn fat stores. Find a gym or fitness center that offers anaerobic/VO2 testing. Merlino Fitness offers anaerobic threshold testing every month. Check out the link below for more details.
Merlino Fitness Metabolic Testing
Nutrition
Keys to Weight Loss
If you are trying to drop weight make sure you incorporate the following to get you on your way. Drink lots of water, don't skip meals (especially breakfast), do not eat late night meals or snacks after 7 or 8 pm and build as much activity into your everyday life as you can. Michael also recommends joining weight watchers to anyone trying to lose weight and keep it off long term.
Nutritional Supplements
Stay Away From Ephedra!
The weight loss/energy supplement is in the news again. Supplement companies that market this controversial supplement claim it is safe although many have died from this dangerous supplement. Make sure you check the labels of your nutritional supplements as many are laced with ephedra, also known as ephedrine or ma huang (the actual herbal).
Quick Tip Archives
Our archived collection of fitness and nutrition tips to help you stay focused and fit.
Tip Archives

Soy Dream
Ice Cream Sandwiches
Take the edge off those sweet cravings with this healthy soy alternative to an ice cream sandwich without the unwanted calories and guilt.
Product Website
Eggology Egg Whites
Take the edge off those sweet cravings with this healthy soy alternative to an ice cream sandwich without the unwanted calories and guilt.
Product Website
Grocery Store Archives
Our latest collection of on-line articles to help you stay focuses and fit.
Grocery Archives
 
Fitness
Pamela from Chihuahua, MexicoI work out 5 days a week and can't loose weight. I do spinning, tae bo and many types of cardio. Where am I going wrong?
Answer
Nutrition
Ross from Sidney, AustraliaI am currently trying to eat six small meals per day. Apart from breakfast and dinner, I always seem to forget or skip my meals during the day. I also need some simple, easy meals (snacks) that do not require refrigeration or preparation, apart from the obvious fruits.
Answer
Running
Amanda from Manitoba, CanadaWhat should I eat the morning of my track meet?
Answer
 


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