Beating the Back to School Panic: The Importance of Nutrition

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As the lazy, hazy days of summer wind down, many of us are consumed with school supply lists, scheduling anxiety and school lunch conundrums. Preparing for school doesn’t have to be stressful, though. Here are five helpful tips to keep you, and your family, sane during back-to-school season.

Plan Ahead, Together

We all know the planning and anticipation before big events can be its own kind of fun, even enhancing the joy of the big event. Include your kids in back-to-school preparations as much as possible to help them, and you, mentally prepare. Allowing little ones to pick out supplies, provide scheduling input, and grocery shop will benefit all of you.

Boost Their Immunity

Many children get sick at the start of school due to fatigue and an onslaught of germs from new surroundings and schoolmates. While no single food will prevent illness, medical and nutritional experts agree healthy diets generally lead to healthy immune systems.

A healthy gut helps strengthen the entire immune system, so make sure kids get plenty of probiotics from yogurt, pickles, and other fermented foods. Snacks should include fruits and veggies whenever possible; when going for packaged snacks make sure to read the labels to ensure they’re truly healthy and nutrient-rich, not just seemingly so. Also work to avoid added sugar, which weakens the body’s defenses and encourages phlegm production.

Pack With Purpose

Packing lunches and snacks can often go last on the list of back-to-school preparation, but they are vital to helping kids thrive at school. We know when kids get their recommended 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, as part of a healthy diet, they have increased focus and concentration. Ideally, lunches should include a protein, a vegetable and a fruit.

Kids often have busy and short lunch periods; during the first few weeks many get so distracted by all the activity they don’t eat all their food. Strive to include healthy foods packed with protein and fiber to keep them full, along with foods that can be saved and sent back the next day to make your life simpler. Pickles are an overlooked vegetable source that offers probiotic benefits; bean dips are filled with protein and avoid allergy conflicts; and organic dried fruits with no added sugar can easily become a favorite naturally sweet, healthy treat.

Beware of time saving measures that hurt

Harried parents are often tempted to buy pre-packaged lunches at stores, but beware: most are loaded with sodium, saturated fat and sugar. They are often more expensive then packing lunches at home in the long run. To save time, look for truly healthy packaged snacks without added sugar and simple ingredients to fill out your lunches.

Buy in bulk or order through Amazon’s subscribe and save so you don’t have to continually shop and prepare. For easy “grab-and-go” options that offer additive nutrition, look for organic dried fruits in conveniently portioned packages, vegetable snacks without added fillers, and cheese sticks. For all packaged snacks, always look for foods with no added sugar.

Protect Down Time

Whether it’s right when they get home from school, or the first few weekends after the start of school, find a way to create more downtime in your family schedule to help ease kids into their new school routine. By creating plenty of space in your family routine for rest and connection, you will all make it through the harried first few weeks of school happier and healthier.

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Noha Waibsnaider is the founder of Peeled Snacks, a maker of organic fruit and vegetable snacks. Committed to organic, clean food, Peeled Snacks makes a variety of vegetable and fruit snacks available at Whole Foods, Amazon.com and grocery stores. Find out more at www.peeledsnacks.com.

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