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Back-to-School Nutrition starts at Home for USAF FitFamily Members!
Back-to-school is the perfect time to teach and reinforce good nutritional behavior. With new federal nutrition guidelines implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture effective July 1 setting calorie limits and standards for meals served at schools, the bar has been raised to give children healthier options. Unless we do our part by being a role model at home, this lunch program initiative launched by First Lady Michelle Obama may prove ineffective. Nicole Kerr MPH, RD, Air Force Health Promotion Nutrition Manager, shares some advice on how to give “at-home nutrition” an overhaul.
Break-the-fast with a nutritious Breakfast!
Breakfast is “breaking the fast” since you ate dinner the previous evening. Research indicates that children who eat breakfast regularly have better standardized test scores, exhibit better behavior and are less hyperactive than children who miss breakfast. Further, research shows children 9-12 years old who eat high glycemic index breakfasts (sugary foods) tend to eat more at lunch. Nicole suggests limiting or avoiding sugar sweetened cereals, donuts or pastries and add fruit, grain and dairy to your family’s breakfast. “If a child’s pallet knows only high sodium, high fat and high sugar at home, it won’t be easy to choose the healthier options at school,” said Nicole. “Choose from some fun, easy breakfast, lunch and snack makeovers at www.mealmakeovermoms.com”.
Ham and Cheesy Breakfast Sandwich
Makes 1 serving
• 1/2 teaspoon canola oil
• 1 large egg, beaten
• 1 slice lower-sodium deli ham (3/4 ounce)
• 1 slice reduced-fat Cheddar or American cheese (1/2 ounce)
• 1 whole wheat English muffin, halved and lightly toasted
USAF FitFamily members can pack-a-punch Lunch!
Picky eaters? You’ll be happy to know it’s normal! And most kids eventually outgrow it, but in the meantime finicky eating habits can be tough to overcome. If your child refuses to eat what is served at school and you’re packing their lunch – Nicole’s advice is to pack some nutritious, fun options. Always make sure anything that can spoil is packed in an insulated cooler. Expose them to different fruits by making chicken kabobs with strawberries and grapes. Pack baby carrot sticks or celery sticks and use whole wheat bread instead of white bread when making their favorite sandwich. Changing the pallet for a picky eater has to begin at home. “Remember the rainbow – offer a variety of colors. And be certain to pack-a-punch lunch with lots of fruits and veggies”, advises Nicole.
• 1/2 pound nitrite-free bacon (8 to 10 slices)
• 4 teaspoons light canola mayonnaise
• 8 slices 100% whole wheat bread
• 8 Romaine lettuce leaves, washed and dried
• 4 thin slices tomato
1. Cook the bacon according to package directions until crispy. Pat well between paper towels to remove excess fat.
2. To make each sandwich, spread the mayonnaise evenly over the bread slices. Layer evenly with 1 lettuce leaf, 1 tomato slice, 2 to 3 slices bacon, and 1 more lettuce leaf. Place the remaining bread slices firmly on top.
3. Slice in half, wrap in plastic wrap or place in a zip-top bag, and pack in your child’s lunch box.
Nutrition Information per Serving:
Total fat: 11g
Saturated fat: 3g
Vitamin A: 10%
Vitamin C: 10%
Don’t forget to snack!
Even with a balanced breakfast and a healthy lunch, a light after-school snack will refuel your child’s body before play or study time. A handful of nuts and an apple, or maybe a snack tray of veggies and dips are perfect refuel foods. But good nutrition alone is not enough. Physical activity is critical for growing bodies and minds. The American Academy of Pediatrics has guidelines for limiting “screen time” for various ages of a child’s development. With the emphasis at school on testing, physical activity has been cut back therefore making their after-school physical activity very important. Children need at least one hour of physical activity each day and a minimum of 9 hours of sleep at night. “Creating feeding and bedtime routines and providing structure and boundaries at home will result in better performance at school,” offers Nicole.
Mom’s Mango Smoothie
Makes 4 servings
• 2 cups frozen mango (one 10-ounce package)
• 1½ cups 100% mango juice, tropical juice, or orange juice
• 1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
1. Place the mango, juice, and yogurt in a blender, and blend until well combined.
2. Pour into individual glasses and serve with a straw.
Nutrition Information per Serving (1 cup):
Total fat: 1g
Saturated fat: 0g
Vitamin A: 10%
Vitamin C: 30%
USAF FitFamily encourages members to change it up!
Back-to-school means a busier schedule for parents too! Plan ahead! Kids will tend to eat what their parents like – if the parent doing the shopping doesn’t like bananas or yogurt for example, the child will likely never be exposed to them. “Try one new fruit and one new veggie every month, plus get your family involved in a community or school garden where lessons about nutrition, science and even leadership and math skills are taught,” suggests Nicole. If your child tries new nutritional foods at home, they are more likely to make healthy choices at school. A variety of healthy recipes can be found on the USAF FitFamily website or try something new on your own by simply substituting one ingredient with your family favorite recipe to make it healthier (fish instead of ground beef in tacos).
Invite family and friends to use USAF FitFamily.com
USAF FitFamily offers service members and their families a wealth of resources and information on proper nutrition, sports and fitness, games, educational projects and a host of other tips and ideas to keep a family fit. Plus the newest section in USAF FitFamily called USAF LivingFit was designed to help US Air Force members and their families achieve their weight loss goals. With a busy military lifestyle in mind, it’s easy to use and supports members every step of the way – check it out at www.usaffitfamily.com.