Prep for parents as children get ready to go back to school
With the holidays coming to an end, it’s nearly time for children to go ‘back to school’. Amidst the excitement of starting a new school year, its important that children have and maintain a healthy balanced diet. Not only will a balanced diet help ensure that they get all the nutrients they need for their growth and development, it can also help to set up healthy habits.
Here are some top tips to make healthy eating easier as you get back into the school routine this September.
Breakfast – be prepared!
Mornings can be super-stressful, trying to get everything organised to get out the door on time. Anything you can do to set up a healthy breakfast beforehand can help. You could put cereals, toast toppings and fresh or dried fruit out first thing or even the night before so that children can serve themselves as soon as they are ready. You could prep the night before by making some overnight oats that can be kept in the fridge, ready to be served at breakfast time.
Lunches – find your balance
If you’re making a packed lunch, it’s all about the balance of the main food groups. You can include:
- A starchy food like bread, pittas, wraps, couscous, pasta or rice – go wholegrain if you can.
- Protein from foods like beans, lentils, fish, eggs and meats.
- Veg such as cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks or peppers and some fruit.
- dairy or alternatives as a snack, such as cheese or yogurt or have milk as a drink.
Children need about 6-8 drinks across the day and water and milk are the best choices as they don’t contain free sugars. You can offer juices and smoothies too but it’s best to have no more than one small glass (150ml) a day, because they contain sugars and can be acidic. Reusable water bottles are great for children to take to school so that they can have water throughout the day.
Young children have small stomachs and so healthy snacks between meals can help add essential nutrients. Stock up on healthier options so that you have something on hand to help resist pester power for sweets! You could try fresh fruit, cheese balls, mini sandwiches, wholegrain crackers or fruit loaf.
As a parent or carer, you are the most important role model for your young child. Eating together is a great opportunity to show children how to eat well, not just tell them! It’s not always easy if you have a hectic after-school schedule but making some time during the week to eat together, without distractions like TV or phones, is an ideal way to support healthy eating as a family.
You can also try meal planning for the week. Organising beforehand can help with planning meals, setting aside the ingredients needed, and will also help with having a variety of foods during the week. For inspiration, you can refer to our 7-day meal planner. https://www.nutrition.org.uk/putting-it-into-practice/planning/7-day-meal-plan/
Remember, healthy eating does not need to be hectic and time consuming. Making consistent, realistic and easy dietary decisions everyday can make a big difference in our overall health and wellbeing.
Help us improve
We'd love to hear your thoughts about this page below.
If you have a more general query, please contact us.
Please note that advice provided on our website about nutrition and health is general in nature. We do not provide any personal advice on prevention, treatment and management for patients or their family members.