Nutrition Tips for Back to School

By: Lilli Rozanski, MS, RDN, LDN, Sports and Fitness Dietitian, Thibodaux Regional Health System

School is here - time to fall back into a daily routine! Mornings may become a tad hectic this season with alarms going off, getting breakfast ready, packing lunches, finishing homework, carpools, and a new one – remembering to bring masks. Some days you may think, “How can I possibly prepare a nutritious and delicious lunch during these busy mornings?” Have no fear. … there is a way. Below are a few tips on how to help minimize the stress and maximize your morning time to give you and your loved ones a healthy start.

Start with breakfast!

Breakfast is an essential part of everyone’s day. It is exactly what it means – it is breaking the fast from the night before. Eating breakfast will help you and your kids balance blood sugars, keep you full throughout the day, and help you focus. Research has shown that eating breakfast results in healthier body weights. Studies also suggest that eating breakfast is associated with improved memory, better test grades, greater school attendance and better behavior. Children who don’t eat breakfast may feel tired and have trouble concentrating.

Shop for breakfast essentials like eggs, fruit, low-fat milk and yogurt, cereal, whole-grain bread and granola bars. For a quick and healthy breakfast enjoy cereal (with less than 10 grams sugar/serving), low-fat milk, banana and yogurt. Pairing a carbohydrate and protein together helps create a balanced breakfast to keep you full throughout the morning.

Packing a Healthy Lunch

Lunch is a perfect opportunity to help your child develop healthy meal planning skills for life. Guide your child in choosing from a variety of healthy lunch options. Try packing lunch at night and store in a certain spot in the refrigerator so you can grab and go in the morning. Prep meals and chop veggies on the days when you are least busy. Having foods all ready to go will make cooking a lot quicker. Kids are more likely to choose fruits and veggies if they are already cut up and ready to eat. Placing nutritious snacks in plain sight makes everyone more likely to pick them up. A simple checklist will help make sure everything they need is packed:

  • 1 fresh fruit. For example: grapes, apple slices or rings, any melon chunks (cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon), any berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries), or banana slices
  • 1-2 vegetables. For example: carrot coins or sticks, cucumber, broccoli, bell pepper strips, asparagus spears, summer squash ribbons, or grape tomatoes
  • 1 protein. For example: Beans, edamame, nuts, seeds, peanut butter, hummus, veggie burger, roasted turkey or chicken slices, or a hardboiled egg
  • 1 whole grain. For example: whole grain pasta, bread, and crackers, brown rice, quinoa, steel-cut oats, and other minimally-processed whole grains

Healthy Lunch Examples

  1. Pizza Roll-Ups
    • Whole wheat tortilla spread with tomato paste, topped with ¼ cup of shredded mozzarella cheese and baby spinach leaves. Roll and slice into pieces. Serve with bell pepper sticks, 2 tablespoons of hummus and grapes.
  2. Turkey Pretzel Wrap
    • Two to three ounces of turkey pieces, avocado slices, and pretzel sticks in a whole wheat wrap. Serve with baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of low-fat ranch dressing for dipping and 1 small apple.
  3. Mexican Chicken Pita
    • Whole wheat pita filled with 2 to 3 ounces of chicken pieces (grilled or baked), lettuce, 2 tablespoons of shredded cheddar cheese and salsa. Serve with a low-fat yogurt and orange slices.

For more information or to schedule a nutrition consultation with a registered dietitian, contact Thibodaux Regional Health System at 985-493-4765.