After a long summer break, it’s time for the kids to head back to school and focus on classes, sports and other after-school activities. Going back to school is a stressful time for both parents and kids. In addition to stocking up on school supplies, it’s important to prepare your child for the new school year by establishing healthy routines to set your kids up for success.

Here are a few back-to-school tips to keep your kids eating a healthy diet:

Feed Your Kids Healthy Whole Foods

back to school tips, charlotte naturopathic doctor, healthy tips for kidsA healthy diet is key for keeping your kids healthy and successful this school year. Kids should eat at least five servings of fruits and veggies every day, so be sure to stock your child’s lunch box with lots of produce!

Kids should never skip breakfast in the morning. It is important for keeping your kids alert and successful all day.  A good option for breakfast is scrambled eggs (with added veggies; ie spinach, peppers, onions, etc), lean meats, and low sugar fruits.

Avoid high carbohydrate and high sugar breakfasts.  Often when we think of breakfast, it is carbohydrate filled (cereal, toast, juice and waffles). When you seek a carbohydrate, feed your kids complex carbohydrates, such as vegetables, nuts and seeds. They leave them feeling full longer and help keep their energy levels steady. High sugar breakfasts like cereal and juice can cause a decrease in focus and concentration and can affect your child’s ability to learn and pay attention in class.  These foods may also contribute to hyperactivity and irritability.

It is very important that your child eats high quality proteins and fats at each meal and snack time to keep up their focus and energy (turkey, fish, chicken, nuts, eggs, olive oil, coconut oil and avocado). To boost immunity you should eliminate inflammatory foods such as those including sugar (including fruit juice and soda) and dairy products (milk, cheese and yogurt). Dairy products tend to cause your child to become congested or phlegmy. You should increase leafy green veggies (kale, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens) and antioxidant rich foods (red peppers, blueberries, strawberries, prunes, pomegranates, cranberries and beets).

A quick and easy snack for kids is a protein smoothie. Start with a protein powder base, like the Basic Protein or Easy Meal (both available for purchase in our office), then add water or unsweetened coconut or almond milk. You can also add in fruits (choose fruits low in sugar), veggies, unsweetened cocoa powder, stevia, almond butter, coconut oil and many more!

Call the office today at (704) 334-3761 if you’d like more information on how much protein your kids should be getting and fun smoothie recipes that your kids will love.


Meal Planning

If you plan your family’s meals and snacks in advance, you will not make unhealthy decisions when you are hungry and busy. This goes for kids too! You should plan on the weekend to prepare a few meals in advance and freeze them to use on a busy morning or night during the week. You will also want to think ahead about packing lunches and snacks for the week.

If you’d like a healthy grocery list to help you make healthy options for your family, contact the office today to schedule a free phone consultation with one of our Naturopathic Doctors.


Tip: Meal Prep

To help you and your family eat healthy during the week when you’re too busy to cook, the best thing to do is meal prep or cook ahead. You can set aside a few hours on the weekend to prep for the entire week. This will make your week less stressful and give your family healthy on the go options. Make sure you have glass containers of different sizes on hand to use as storage. The biggest tip we can give you is to KEEP IT SIMPLE. Plan for a protein and side of veggies. You can use different seasonings and spices to mix it up. Once you become more comfortable with batch cooking and meal prep, you can mix it up and use more complicated recipes. You do not want to get overwhelmed and defeated.


SNACKS:

-Wash and cut all fruits and veggies for easy access. The best grab-and-go options for healthy veggie snacking are: cucumbers, broccoli, peppers, carrots, snap peas, celery. Put these into small bags or containers so they are easy to grab and go.

fruit and vegetables, healthy eating, back to school tips, naturopathic medicine charlotte-Hard boil eggs in bulk. You can keep these in your fridge and peel them for a fast and protein packed snack on the go. This protein will keep you feeling full and satisfied throughout the day.

-Portion nuts and seeds as snacks. You want to eat nuts and seeds in moderation. The best options are macadamia, almonds, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Avoid peanuts.

-Shake together some Easy Meal protein powder into a shaker bottle with unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk. This provides a quick and easy protein filled snack.


BREAKFAST:

-Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and you should never skip it. Make ahead egg muffins are an easy recipe to make ahead and you can customize them with anything you or your family likes. They also freeze well so you can make them in bulk and freeze them until you’re ready to eat them.

-Basic Recipe: Preheat oven to 375. Spray muffin/cupcake tin with olive oil. For a bulk recipe you should use approximately 12 eggs. If you would like to customize these in smaller batches then you can mix together 3-4 eggs at a time. You can add in different ingredients to your liking. This is a good option if you have picky eaters in your family so that you can bake multiple things at the same time and still make everyone happy.

Ingredient Options (Pick 3 or more)

Diced garlic
Kale
Mushrooms
Peppers
Onions
Grated or chopped sweet potatoes
Cooked turkey sausage
Zucchini
Corn
Basil
Arugula
Broccoli
Grated carrots
Jalapeno
Chives


LUNCH:

-Mason Jar Salads: Prep multiple mason jar salads for the week. You can make these quickly and easily if you have already cut up veggies for snacks for the week. You can make as many as you’d like for a quick and easy lunch (or even dinner).  The key is the order which you place the ingredients in the jar. The best option is a wide mouth jar for easy filling and eating. The key is to keep your dressing and lettuce far from each other so the lettuce doesn’t get soggy. You should use hearty vegetables in the bottom so they soak up the dressing and act as a barricade for the lettuce.

mason jar salad, back to school tips, naturopathic medicine, healthy eatingLayer 1: Dressing on the bottom. Use your favorite vinaigrette dressing. You can use oil and vinegar to make your own!

Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette:

4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Layer 2: Hearty Vegetables. These vegetables will shield your lettuce from the dressing. Hearty vegetables to use: tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, celery, carrots, and peppers. This is the most important layer. You want to make sure to add enough hearty vegetables to separate the dressing from the lettuce layer.

Layer 3: Less Hearty Vegetables. This layer will act as a second barrier to the dressing. You don’t want this layer marinating in the dressing, but the veggies will be OK if they do a bit. Less hearty vegetables to use: mushrooms, zucchini, sprouts, green beans, corn, avocado.

Layer 4: Protein. In this layer you can include meat, and hard-boiled eggs. Meats can include any meat on your healthy grocery list.

Layer 5: Lettuce, Nuts and Seeds. In this layer you will put ingredients that you do not want to get soggy or to wilt. You can use any combination of lettuce; spinach, arugula, spinach, kale, etc.


DINNER:

-If you are unable to batch cook for the entire week, the best thing to do is to batch cook your protein for the week. Cooking your protein is the most time consuming part of a meal, so if you cook this in advance, it will save you a lot of time. The easiest way to start batch cooking for the week is by using simple and unintimidating recipes for a protein and vegetable, and cooking it in bulk (enough for leftovers for a few days).

baked chicken, healthy eating, back to school tips, charlotte naturopathic medicine

Chicken and Sweet Potato Bowls: Serves 8

2 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into small pieces)
cajun seasoning (or your favorite spices/seasonings)
olive oil
3 sweet potatoes peeled and diced
5-6 cups of broccoli (you can also include other veggies; brussel sprouts, green beans, etc)
sea salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425. Toss the chicken pieces with seasoning and spices and a quick stream of olive oil. Stir to combine and put this in the fridge while you prepare the vegetables.

Arrange the vegetables on their own sheet pans, preferably one with edges to avoid spilling. The more vegetables you decide to use, the more vegetables you will consume and you will have more leftovers, so don’t hesitate to include all of your families favorite veggies!

Drizzle vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and any other seasonings you like. You will bake all ingredients at the same time for 12-15 minutes. Remove the chicken and vegetables (they should be fully cooked by this time, if the chicken is not fully cooked then cook for a few extra minutes). Stir the sweet potatoes and cook for another 15 minutes.

Once everything is complete, portion everything into glass containers and store in the fridge. This should last you for multiple meals and make a quick and easy go-to dinner for those nights you are on the run. If you want to prep even more meals, you can use this as a base plan and cook multiple meats and vegetables so that you can mix and match for the entire week.

To learn more about Naturopathic Medicine and Nutrition, visit http://lifestyle-clinic.com/services/nutrition/. Call the office today to schedule your free phone consultation with one of our Naturopathic Doctors to receive your own personalized grocery list and food recommendations for your body!


References:

www.organizeyourselfskinny.com
www.pinchofyum.com
www.eatsandexercisebyamber.com
www.peggysnaturalfoods.com
www.momtrends.com
www.naturalterrain.com
www.smallfootprintfamily.com