Ever heard the saying, “You are what you eat” and not think much of it? Well, it’s a scientifically true statement because “ the nutritional content of what we eat determines the composition of our cell membranes, bone marrow, blood, hormones, tissue, organs, skin, and hair ” and some research has even suggested that what we eat affects our genes.
Clearly, our physical and mental well-being are directly linked to the foods we eat. Unless your children are homeschooled, they’ll probably eat lunch, one of the most important meals of the day, at school almost every weekday for most of the year.
While you may not be able to 100% control what they eat and how much when they are out of sight and away for most of the day at school, there are some practical measures you can take to ensure that they have healthy options to choose from.
If you pack a lunch for your child to bring to school
Plan ahead. It's almost impossible to pack a healthy lunch if you don’t plan ahead. Plan out your child’s meals for the week and make a shopping list of all the things you’ll need. Take that list with you when you go grocery shopping so you can purchase all the necessary items. Then choose a time slot of an hour or 2 during the weekend to set up the lunches.
If you have younger children, it’s important that you pack their lunches for them so that all they have to do is grab it and go.
If you have older children, just provide the options, and they can select what they prefer to eat that day. For example, if you prepped an assortment of salads, sandwiches, and wraps for the week for your tweens and teens in middle and high school, place the items in the fridge, let your kids know where the items are and then every morning before they leave for school, they can reach in the fridge, grab what they want and head out the door.
Choose a sturdy lunch box or lunch bag that will last the entire year. Brown paper bag lunch sacks are great for packing snacks every now and then, but if your child is bringing perishable foods to school for lunch, it’s important that those items stay cool to avoid food poisoning. Find an insulated lunch box that will keep foods cool and make sure to pack an ice pack as well.
Before packing leftovers that may need to be reheated, make sure there is a microwave or toaster oven available for your child to use at school. Nothing is worse than eating cold leftover spaghetti.
Pack a variety of foods. It’s ok to include a cookie or a bag of chips but make sure that’s not the only snack you pack. Make sure the lunches you pack include a protein, a fruit, a vegetable and some water and if you pack a cookie or a bag of chips, make sure that it’s being packed in addition to (and not instead of) the healthy items listed above. Click here for some healthy lunch ideas.
Never pack a soft drink or sugary drink. Always send your child to school with a bottle of water. If you do pack something in addition to water, please make sure the label says 100% juice, otherwise (unless it’s tea or milk), the drink is usually just some artificially flavored, artificially colored liquid filled with ingredients your child is best to do without.
If your child eats a lunch provided by the school
See if you can get a menu of what the school cafeteria will serve for lunch each day. Many elementary schools will send one home with the child every month. Be sure to pay close attention to it by hanging it on the door of your refrigerator. That way, you can know what days you may need to supplement your child’s lunch or send your child to school with a lunch from home (for instance, if they are serving something that you do not want your child to eat). Most middle and high schools serve pretty much the same options every day for your child to choose from. If that’s the case, talk to your tweens and teens about what they’re eating at school and encourage them to always eat a piece of fruit or vegetable if it’s available. Just in case, try to have some fruits and veggies such as oranges, apples, bananas, carrots, sweet peppers, celery and grape tomatoes available at home so they can take it with them to school to eat along with their school lunch.
If you notice that your child is gaining weight or often lacks energy even though you typically serve healthy options at home, your child may be purchasing unhealthy foods at school. Many schools sell cookies, cakes, ice cream, chips, sports drinks, sodas and other sugary drinks in the cafeteria during lunch and it’s possible that your child is spending his lunch money on those unhealthy options. If that is the case, you may want to consider packing their lunches instead.
On the other hand, you might need to start packing something for your child to bring to school to supplement her school lunch if you notice she is always hungry when she comes home because she is not getting enough to eat at school.
Regardless of whether your child eats a school lunch or one brought from home, please always send them to school with water. Kids these days are not getting enough water which is negatively affecting all aspects of their health including their brain health, their physical health, and emotional health . To save money (and to lessen the negative impact on the environment) purchase a water bottle that will last for the entire school year instead of repeatedly buying disposable water bottles. That way, your child can bring that bottle to school with them every day and refill it at water fountains throughout the day.
Obesity is rapidly becoming an epidemic amongst our youth. Preventing it starts at home. In addition, eating unhealthily can wreak havoc on a child’s mental health, physical health, energy levels, ability to focus and academic achievement.
So do your best to encourage and support your children to eat healthily now, and they will continue reaping the benefits throughout their lives .
1. Aim for 12 hugs (or physical connections) every day.
As family therapist Virginia Satir famously said, "We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth."
Snuggle your child first thing in the morning for a few minutes, and last thing at night. Hug when you say goodbye, when you're re-united, and often in between. Tousle hair, pat backs, rub shoulders. Make eye contact and smile, which is a different kind of touch. If your tween or teen rebuffs your advances when she first walks in the door, realize that with older kids you have to ease into the connection. Get her settled with a cool drink, and chat as you give a foot rub. (Seem like going above and beyond? It's a foolproof way to hear what happened in her life today. You'll find yourself glad, many times, if you prioritize that.)
Laughter and rough-housing keep you connected with your child by stimulating endorphins and oxytocin in both of you. Making laughter a daily habit also gives your child a chance to laugh out the anxieties and upsets that otherwise make him feel disconnected — and more likely to act out. And play helps kids want to cooperate. Which is likely to work better?: "Come eat your breakfast now!" or "Little Gorilla, it's time for breakfast — Look, you have bugs and bananas on your oatmeal!"
3. Turn off technology when you interact.
Your child will remember for the rest of her life that she was important enough to her parents that they turned off their phone to listen to her. Even turning off music in the car can be a powerful invitation to connect, because the lack of eye contact in a car takes the pressure off, so kids (and adults) are more likely to open up and share.
4. Connect before transitions.
Kids have a hard time transitioning from one thing to another. If you look him in the eye, use his name, and connect with him, then get him giggling, you'll make sure he has the inner resources to manage himself through a transition.
5. Make time for one-on-one time.
Do whatever you need to do to schedule 15 minutes with each child, separately, every day. Alternate doing what your child wants and doing what you want during that time. On her days, just pour your love into her and let her direct. On your days resist the urge to structure the time with activities. Instead, try any physical activity or game that gets her laughing. (For game ideas, click here.)
6. Welcome emotion.
Sure, it's inconvenient. But your child needs to express his emotions or they'll drive his behavior. Besides, this is an opportunity to help your child heal those upsets, which will bring you closer. So summon up your compassion, don't let the anger trigger you, and welcome the tears and fears that always hide behind the anger. Remember that you're the one he trusts enough to cry with, and breathe your way through it. Just acknowledge all those feelings and offer understanding of the pain. Afterward, he'll feel more relaxed, cooperative, and closer to you. (Yes, this is really hard. Regulating our own emotions in the face of a child's upset is one of the hardest parts of parenting. But that doesn't mean we're excused from trying.)
7. Listen, and Empathize.
Connection starts with listening. Bite your tongue if you need to, except to say, "Wow!....I see....Really?...How was that for you?...Tell me more..."
The habit of seeing things from your child's perspective will ensure that you treat her with respect and look for win/win solutions. It will help you see the reasons for behavior that would otherwise drive you crazy. And it will help you regulate your own emotions so when your buttons get pushed and you find yourself in "fight or flight," your child doesn't look so much like the enemy.
8. Slow down and savor the moment.
You aren't just rushing your child through the schedule so you can spend a few minutes with him before bed. Every interaction all day long is an opportunity to connect. Slow down and share the moment: Let him smell the strawberries before you put them in the smoothie. When you're helping him wash his hands, put yours in the running water with his, and share the cool rush of the water. Smell his hair. Listen to his laughter. Look him in the eyes and meet him heart to open heart, sharing that big love. Connect in the magnificence of the present moment — which is really the only way we can connect. (For most parents, this is also the secret to being able to tolerate playing that same game, yet again.)
9. Bedtime snuggle and chat.
Set your child's bedtime a wee bit earlier with the assumption that you'll spend some time visiting and snuggling in the dark. Those companionable, safe moments of connection invite whatever your child is currently grappling with to the surface, whether it's something that happened at school, the way you snapped at her this morning, or her worries about tomorrow's field trip. Do you have to resolve her problem right then? No. Just listen. Acknowledge feelings. Reassure your child that you hear her concern, and that you'll solve it together tomorrow. The next day, be sure to follow up. You'll be amazed how your relationship with your child deepens. And don't give this habit up as your child gets older. Late at night is often the only time teens will open up.
10. Show up.
Most of us go through life half-present. But your child has only about 900 weeks of childhood with you before he leaves your home. He'll be gone before you know it. Try this as a practice: When you're interacting with your child, show up 100 percent. Just be right here, right now, and let everything else go. You won't be able pull this off all the time. But if you make it a habit several times a day, you'll find yourself shifting into presence more and more often, because you'll find it creates those moments with your child that make your heart melt.
-From Psychology Today
Summer is almost over and school has begun! Fall can be the worst season for outdoor allergies, cold and flu season is on the horizon..
Seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) affect many children, especially this time of year. If your children experience allergies, they may experience sneezing, stuffiness, a runny nose and itchiness in the nose, the roof of the mouth, throat, eyes or ears. These allergic reactions are most commonly caused by pollen and mold spores in the air, which start a chain reaction in the immune system.
If your child's allergy symptoms interfere with daily life (energy level, attention, etc.), speak to your child's pediatrician. Kids' allergies can often be treated with a basic antihistamine or decongestant but more severe allergies may require regular allergy shots during the peak seasons. Speak to our pediatricians before administering any medicine to your child.
Keep talking to your kids so that you are involved, engaged and able to pick up on any mood changes. Easier said than done, especially with teens, but try to keep the two way conversation open. Encouragement can do wonders for a child’s self-esteem. And we all know that physical health and emotional health are dependent on one another.
Believe it or not, summer's almost over, and that means it's time again for back-to-school physicals. While these checkups might seem simple but necessary routine, they also provide a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with your doctor on how to create the healthiest habits for your child to grow into.