Back to School: Three Ways to Help Your Child Eat Right
While the at-home lifestyle of a child has a strong correlation with their health, so does their involvement in school. With the school year beginning, stay on top of what your child consumes every day, so that you can do your best to teach them what foods may or may not be healthy s. There are many things which can influence your child’s eating habits at school but by simply paying attention, you can help them make better food choices.
As you most likely know, food plays a huge part in socializing. When kids get together for lunch or for snack time, especially in the younger age groups, there’s a lot of trading and sharing going on. This is a natural habit for them, it's a way for them to connect with their new friends.
Everything from vending machines to the snack bar, as well as the menu the school offers, factors into how your child’s health stands during the school year. At the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas we want to help you teach your children how to live a healthy life. Here are some ways for you to make sure you’re sending your child to school with the knowledge and awareness of nutrition:
Keep track of the school lunch menu
With a constant rise in obesity among children, schools across the country are trying to provide “healthier” options for their students. While the options may be healthier, they may not be the best choice.
At the beginning of every week go over the school menu with your child. Explain to them which items are full of great nutrition, such as the fruits, sandwiches, etc., as well as inform them of what they should stay away from. As the weeks progress, ask them to go over the menu and tell you what they think they should eat. Soon you’ll see a great improvement in their knowledge of nutrition. If you don’t feel as though the school menu is healthy enough for your child, then try packing a lunch together. Make healthy alternatives for them
There are ways for children to enjoy their all-time favorite, sugar-filled snacks. Give them a healthy alternative that resembles their favorites and they’ll be satisfied. If they love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches then make them an organic version. Give them peanut butter with apples as a snack or find a fat free version of some of their other favorites.
Practice what you preach
Children learn from what they see. They’ll do what their loved ones do because that’s who they look up to. Make sure if you’re telling your child what’s healthy , you’re eating the same things. Avoid bringing soda into the house and spend time with them cooking healthy dinners. The more they help you cook the more they’ll enjoy the healthy side of food. If your family is successfully eating healthier then consider reserving one day, a Saturday or Sunday, for eating their favorite snacks. Have a “cheat” day but make sure they don’t overdo it.
Every parent wants their child to be healthy. Going back to school can cause worry because you ultimately don’t know what your child is eating. By educating them and teaching them what foods are good for their bodies you’ll be able to feel more comfortable sending them to school every day.
If you would like your child to learn more about nutrition, please contact the YMCA of Dallas to sign them up for our after school programs. The programs combine physical activity while teaching them about their health. Want more? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.