Welcome to a new school year!
Preparing kids for academic success can be a daunting task and requires more than just new school supplies. Here at Brant Food For Thought, we are ready to support local school-based nutrition programs with funding, equipment and other resources to ensure that children and youth in our community are well-nourished and ready to maximize their learning success this school year. Healthy, universal school food programs that give children and youth access to nutritious and safe food in a non-stigmatizing manner help students feel connected and that they belong. Healthy dietary patterns are also recognized to contribute to better mental health.
Parents may be asking, “What can I feed my kids this year to help fuel their active minds and bodies?” Eating a nutritious breakfast every morning, along with a healthy lunch and snacks throughout the day helps keep your child healthy and ready to learn. Canada’s Food Guide and registered dietitians offer some great nutrition tips and ideas to help your children work to their full learning potential this school year.
Start the day with a nutritious breakfast
Did you know that the word breakfast really refers to “break” the “fast”? By the time children wake up to get ready for school, most of them have not had anything to eat for 8 to 12 hours. No wonder breakfast is called the most important meal of the day. Studies show that children who skip breakfast are more sluggish, are less attentive and have less energy for morning activities compared with classmates who eat breakfast.
Eating breakfast is associated with greater school attendance, improved memory, better test grades and improved class behaviour. The morning can be a busy time but with a little planning, you can still make time for a healthy start to the day.
Back to school time is a great opportunity to get kids back to healthy eating and meal time routines. Pediatric registered dietitian and childhood feeding expert, Sarah Remmer, shares some great suggestions for healthy, protein-packed breakfasts.
Not surprisingly, breakfast is a really important meal for growing children and sets them up for a productive day where they can focus, concentrate, learn and stay active. A good breakfast needs to include some key nutrients to help provide and sustain energy levels, as well as fuel brain power. One of those key nutrients is protein. Protein provides building blocks for the growth and repair of the cells in muscles, organs, skin, and nails. The body also uses protein to make enzymes and hormones. Protein also helps repair and make cells, and is an important part of the immune system, to protect the body against viruses and bacteria.
Protein comes from both animal and plant foods – things like eggs, meat, fish, dairy foods, beans, lentils, tofu, nuts and seeds. Remmer’s number one “sanity-saving” back to school hack is to make protein-packed breakfasts ahead of time. Check out Sarah’s three yummy breakfast recipe ideas and more to help kids stay fuller longer and sustain their energy throughout the day.
Pack a lunch that packs a (nutritious!) punch
Making a healthy school lunch doesn’t have to be difficult. Get creative in the kitchen and make sure to involve the kids too. Canada’s Food Guide recommends eating a variety of healthy foods every day. A healthy lunch should include fruits and vegetables, whole grains and a protein food. Check out Zack’s fun video and be inspired to start packing a healthy school lunch that really puts good nutrition back into it. Dietitians of Canada at UnlockFood offer expert nutrition guidance and more healthy lunch ideas for your kids.
Kids need healthy snacks too
Children and youth need snacks to help fuel their active minds and bodies throughout the school day. But not just any snacks will do. In her article, 3 Things You Need To Know Before Choosing A Snack For Your Kids, dietitian Sarah Remmer shares some good nutrition advice and takes the confusion out of making wise choices about healthy snacks selection.
Remmer continues by saying that, “as important as it is to serve snacks, it’s just as important to serve nutrient-dense snacks that aren’t loaded with sugar.” Kids need snacks to help fill nutritional gaps in between meals. She also stresses that it’s “important to serve a variety of snack foods, to expose kids to different flavours, textures and nutrients.” For nutrition-packed snacks, look for those that are low in sugar yet packed with protein and dietary fibre, and have a short list of ingredients.
Learn more about the benefits of offering your kids regular meals and snacks. Check out this short video from UnlockFood and get valuable tips on how to create a healthy eating routine this school year.
Brant Food For Thought will be supporting 50 universal student nutrition programs in Brantford and Brant elementary and secondary schools this school year, with close to 10,000 students participating. We believe that all children and youth should have equitable access to the most nutritious foods, like whole fruits and vegetables, healthy grain products, cheese, yogurt, white milk, eggs and other good protein sources to stay healthy at school and be supported in maximizing their learning potential.