Back to School Frenzy
September has that feeling for most of us. We strive to get back on track, become organized, re-write our goals, and re-frame our priorities. It is often one of the busiest times of the year.
I Need Some Meal Planning Strategies
When planning meals or snacks, make healthy choices based on the Canada Food Guide. Make choices lower in fat, sodium, and sugar (limit sugary drinks, candy, desserts). Limit packaged and processed foods. Choose whole grains and fruit/vegetables which are high in fibre, vitamins and minerals, and a good source of energy.
- Schedule It
- Set aside time for meal planning. Make it part of your routine.
- Create a Blueprint
- i.e., Monday is plant-based, Tuesday is pasta, Wednesday is stir-fry; then assign a recipe for each category for that week.
- Plan for Leftovers
- Cook extra and incorporate the leftovers into the next day’s meals.
- Get Buy-In
- Engage family members in your meal planning. When everyone has input, they are more likely to be open to eating other’s selections.
- Meal Prep. for Several Days Ahead
- Cook chicken in batches; consider casseroles, chili or soup for later in the week, or freeze for another week. Chop veggies and store individually to vary your meals each night, or in baggies for lunches.
- Consider Convenience
- Time savers such as pre-washed salad greens, pre-cut and chopped fresh veggies or fresh fruit. Stock your freezer with frozen fruit and vegetables (they are just as nutritious as fresh).
- Have a Back-Up Plan
- Stock your pantry with staples so you can throw something together easily at the last minute i.e., canned beans, tuna, eggs, frozen veggie burgers, frozen vegetables.
Build Healthy Eating Habits for the Whole Family
Parents play a vital role in raising children with healthy eating habits. It is important for parents to foster a healthy relationship with food.
- Eat together as a family as often as possible to model healthy eating. Offer your child food with a variety of flavours, textures and colours from each of the food groups. Keep mealtimes pleasant and relaxed. Establish a regular routine and expectation that everyone should eat breakfast, lunch and supper. Avoid eating in front of the television at mealtimes, and eliminate electronic devices to increase family connectedness and a more mindful dining experience.
- Fruit juice and sweetened beverages can cause tooth decay and quickly give children a feeling of fullness as blood sugars rise rapidly, and the empty calories provide little or no food value. Water is the beverage of choice.
- Eat a balanced breakfast everyday. It fuels our body and our brain. Adults and students benefit from optimal energy and alertness at the very beginning of the day. There is a reason they say that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”.
- Teach your child that some foods are “everyday” foods and others are “sometimes” foods. Moderation and portion control are key concepts when it comes to French fries, candy, chips, pop, cookies, cakes, and baked goods.
- Foster a healthy relationship with food. Trust that your child knows when they are hungry or full. Portion sizes of plated food is a trigger that indicates appropriate volumes to consume. It is better to start with smaller portions. More food can always be offered if requested. Avoid telling your child to finish everything on their plate. Do not use food as a punishment or a reward.
- Involve your children as much as possible no matter what their age. Include your children in choosing, preparing, growing, and harvesting food. Encourage their assistance in shopping, menu planning, meal preparation, and clean up. Children can help pack their own school lunches. Make meal preparation and cleaning up a family affair.
Did You Know?
Children learn by example. If they regularly see their parents and siblings enjoying nutritious food and being active, they will more than likely follow their lead. Also, children thrive on routines. Creating a healthy routine, with consistent timing and expectations for nutrition and physical activity, you are doing yourself and your child a favour.