Helpful Hints for Back-to-School Health

With less than a month before school starts up again, it may mean crunch-time for you to ensure your children are following good health habits after the schoolbell rings. With most of the day spent idle, sitting at desks and at the mercy of cafeteria food, it is important for children to adopt these habits in order to make the best decisions at school. It all starts with what they learn at home. Everything from staying active to taking their vitamins is vital to keeping your child healthy, happy, and growing.

Proper health always starts with a proper diet. It is more beneficial to pack a lunch for children, rather than let them buy lunch. Even if a school provides healthy alternatives, what would prevent your child from eating pizza or chicken nuggets when given the choice? Rather than tempt fate, pack a lunch that selects from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meats, cheese, and nuts. Avoid processed foods and foods high in sugar. This will give your child more sustained energy throughout the day, rather than risking a sugar crash after lunch. After school, make snacks available with your child’s favorite healthy foods.

By eating healthy, especially high protein/low Glycemic foods, your child’s energy level will remain high, so encourage physical activities after school for at least an hour. Help them avoid watching TV and playing video games when the weather is nice outside. Sedentary activities like that can easily lead to mindless eating, usually with unhealthy choices. Instead, limit the amount of “electronic activity” in your home that is not school-related. If you save homework time until after dinner, odds are your child will be much more focused and not as tempted to watch TV.

While there is no substitute for proper eating, doctors do recommend children take multivitamins, as the Dietary Supplementation Information Bureau specifies: “A high-quality multivitamin will provide at least the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of its key ingredients, it will contain no unnecessary additives, and it will meet its label claims for nutrient content”. Nutritionally, this will help to round things out on a daily basis.
Doctors are also recommending probiotics for children. With school season also comes cold, flu, and allergy season. Probiotics add “good” bacteria to help aid your immune system. According to Dr. Holly Lucille, “Probiotics can help boost the immune system whenever a child might be coming down with symptoms of a cold or flu. Allergies are another indication of one’s immune system under-functioning and Probiotics are ideal in this situation.” When researching the best foods for children to eat to get these “good” bacteria, she explained, “Due to the pH of the stomach, it is best to use supplements when you are trying to affect one’s health. Use a supplement with a delivery system that assures the bacteria are not going to get killed off by the acidity of the stomach and they can make it safely to the intestines, where they really make a difference.”

As more research is revealed about childhood development, along with the recent trends in childhood obesity, it is extremely important that we take care of our children as best we can to prevent these harmful trends from growing. Advantages once thought only beneficial for adults (healthy dieting and supplements) are now proving their benefits with our children too.