Back to School and "Back on Track"

Contributed by Christine M. Palumbo, MBA, RDN, FAND 

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Like it or not, summer’s fun and lack of structure will soon be drawing to a close. Back to school signifies getting back to a routine, creating healthy habits and otherwise getting “back on track.” What about meals? Back on track means a good breakfast, a hearty lunch, a satisfying after-school snack and a healthy dinner.

Everyone has heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that’s especially true for schoolchildren. Aim for a nutritious breakfast, and lunch, with a mix of protein and fiber to keep your little ones energized and their tummies full. Also, because kids have smaller stomachs, metabolize foods quickly and are more active (or should be!), giving them an after-school snack is usually a good idea – not only to get them through the mid-afternoon hump, but also so they aren't starving by dinnertime.

Here are some healthy meal ideas to help you and your kids get back on track:

Breakfast:

The whole grain cereal provides belly-filling fiber; the milk provides protein and is good for strong bones and the 100% grape juice counts as a serving of fruit with no added sugar. As a member of Welch’s Health & Nutrition Advisory Panel member, I also know that 100% grape juice is beneficial because of its plant nutrients (or polyphenols), some of which give the Concord grape its deep-purple hue. In fact, years of research have shown that thanks to the Concord grape, 100% grape juice can support a healthy heart.

Lunch:

  • Turkey or roast beef wrap made with whole wheat tortilla, lettuce, cucumber and a bit of light cream cheese
  • Sugar snap peas with ranch dressing
  • Fresh orange, peeled
  • Carton of low fat or fat-free milk

While lunches have changed since we were in school, what hasn’t changed is the need to refuel for a productive afternoon. The wrap provides lean protein for growing bodies, whole grains for energy and veggies for crunch and key vitamins and minerals. Ditto for the peas and orange.

After-school Snack

  • A small plate of low-fat cheese cubes, whole wheat crackers and/or apple slices

When creating a kid-friendly snack, make it a mini meal of wholesome foods and aim to include two or three of the food groups.

For other healthy eating tips for the whole family, check out Welch's Heart-Healthy Living section, and for more good news about 100% fruit juice, check out this fact sheet.