Back to school nutrition

 Katie Wolff, RD CD CNSC Chief Clinical Dietitian is the guest on KIT

Don’t skip breakfast. Studies show breakfast eaters tend to have higher school attendance, less tardiness and fewer hunger-induced stomachaches. They also score higher on tests, concentrate better, solve problems more easily and have better muscle coordination. If you are pressed for time, quick options include instant oatmeal topped with nuts or raisins, low-fat yogurt with sliced fruit or whole-grain toast with peanut butter. (

Eating at school. If your child’s school provides meals, take time to review the menu with them and discuss how to build a healthful and nutritious meal they will enjoy. Make sure the choices include whole grains, vegetables, fruits and low-fat or fat-free dairy at every meal. Help them make healthy choices by telling them the following:

  • Ordering burgers without the cheese or mayonnaise
  • Putting salad dressing on the side
  • Going easy on baked potato toppings such as cheese and sour cream
  • Eating bread and rolls without added butter
  • Not overloading their trays. Just because something’s there doesn’t mean you have to take it

Collaborate with your child. If you pack your children’s lunches, take your kids grocery shopping with you and allow them to pick out healthy foods that they enjoy. Your kids are much more likely to eat what you pack for them if they have picked it out themselves. (

  • Try New Foods—Pack exotic fruits like kiwi or allow them to pick fruits and vegetables they want to try at the grocery store
  • Sandwiches getting old? Try a whole wheat pita pocket or tortilla, salads, tuna or egg salad with veggies
  • Popcorn instead of artificially flavored and colored cheese snacks
  • Replace potato chips with baked tortilla chips
  • Veggies with low-fat dip
  • Almonds or trail mix

What to drink.

  • Try 100 percent fruit drinks as an alternative to soda
  • Make soft drinks the exception, rather than the rule
  • Milk

Role model healthy behaviors for your children. You have a tremendous influence on your child’s eating behavior and attitudes toward food. If you’re encouraging them to eat healthy but do not exhibit healthy eating habits, the chances of your children adopting healthy behaviors decrease.

 Unhealthy habits

 Snacking all day long

  • Eating in front of the TV
  • Eating when bored/stressed/upset
  • Skipping breakfast
  • Consuming a lot of fast food or convenience foods
  • Drinking a lot of juice or pop
  • High intake of sugary snacks
  • Frequent dieting or preoccupation with weight or food
  • Negative comments about weight or self-image
  • Eating dessert regularly

Healthy Habits

  • Eat and prepare foods with your children
  • Eat at the table as a family with no distractions
  • Provide and eat a variety of healthy foods
  • Avoid skipping meals
  • Moderate portion sizes
  • Try new foods, offer them to your children but don’t force them to try it
  • Limit high fat and high sugar foods in the home
  • Drink water and milk, limit juice and sodas
  • Focus on and talk about why healthy foods are good for you, rather than why “bad” foods are bad
  • Make an effort to make home-cooked meals
  • Be physically active


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