by Margaret Hughes M.Ed, RD, CDE
The school year is busy for families, with early wake-up times and full schedules. Before weekdays even begin, lunches need to be made and backpacks packed. Healthy eating can be a real challenge when you’re constantly on the go.
Try these tips and tricks to make sure you and your children get the nutritious foods you need to conquer each day:
Start your day with breakfast. No doubt you’ve heard it before, but breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day. According to the University of Alberta Health Centre, though, only 12 per cent of Canadians eat a balanced breakfast. A balanced breakfast means eating from at least three of the four food groups at your morning meal. For example, have a piece or two of whole grain toast with peanut butter, along with a piece of fruit.
So why aim for a balanced breakfast? Eating breakfast boosts your brain power, improving your ability to learn and concentrate so you can perform better at school or work. Also, starting the day with breakfast makes you less likely to snack on junk food later in the day. Finally, people who eat breakfast regularly tend to get more vitamins and minerals per day, leading to a healthier overall diet.
Strapped for time in the morning? Have on-the-go breakfast items on hand, such as individual containers of yogurt, fresh fruits, and hard-boiled eggs.
Pack for success. As with breakfast, you want to make sure to pack at least three out of the four food groups for lunch in order to get enough energy and nutrients through the day. To help you brainstorm ideas for lunches, it can be helpful to make a simple chart with options under each food group. And get creative! For example, you could wrap last night’s chicken-vegetable stir-fry into a whole-wheat tortilla. Add an apple and a yogurt and you’re good to go.
Keep hydrated. You lose at least 2.5 litres of water per day, and even more with exercise and an increase in temperature. If you do not replenish your water supply through the day, you become dehydrated, which can result in headaches, tiredness, and difficulty concentrating.
Consuming any water-containing drinks will help you stay hydrated; however water is your healthiest option. Beverages like fruit juice, pop, chocolate milk and sports drinks should be limited, as they can contain high amounts of sugar.
Put nutritious foods on display. Taste and convenience are among the top influencers of food choice, so make the healthy choice an easy choice. Keep a bowl of fruit on your kitchen counter, and have freshly cut vegetables and dip ready in the fridge for when you come home. The more visible and accessible you make healthy snacks, the more likely your family will eat them.
The following dip recipe is the perfect addition to a plate of freshly cut fruit, such apple slices, pineapple, and berries. Greek yogurt is a great source of protein, and it is much thicker and creamier than regular yogurt, making it an excellent base for dips.
Orange and Honey Fruit Dip
Ready In: 10 Minutes
1 1/3 cups plain PC Greek Yogurt
3 tbsp PC Alfalfa Honey
¼ tsp finely grated orange rind
1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1/8 tsp vanilla
In bowl, stir together yogurt, honey, orange rind and juice, and vanilla.
Serve with your favourite fresh fruit chunks and wedges.
Recipe source: pc.ca
Margaret Hughes M.Ed, RD, CDE is a registered dietitian who has a master’s in education. She’s also a certified diabetes educator. Margaret has expertise in sports nutrition, as well as experience as a competitive athlete. She is passionate about all things related to food, health, and living well. She welcomes the opportunity to share her knowledge, experience, and passion with everyone.