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Back To School Season

It’s amazing how fast time flies. It seems like just last week we were attending High School and College graduation parties and voila…now it’s back to school time. I was looking at my Facebook page this morning and saw that one of my friends was taking her daughter to her first day of school. Wow – the summer went fast.

So what can we do differently this year, as school begins? If you are a parent (or grandparent) that has school age kids – can we talk about what the kids should eat for lunch?

I’ve been giving it a lot of thought…there is so much “buzz” out there about eating healthy. I really feel the need to share some ideas on improving the way our kids eat (and ideally…we parents will adopt similar changes). Here we go:

No fast food or processed foods this year. That means we’ll be packing healthy lunches at home (instead of allowing the purchase of ready-made foods at school). I’m not saying that the ready-made food available at school is “fast food” – but if we make it at home, then we KNOW what’s in it!

I plan to sit down with my daughter Sophia each Sunday, before we do our weekly grocery shopping, and plan what she’ll need to make her lunch each day (and breakfast, too). (Idea: my sister Jackie has created a “check list” so my niece can just “check off’ the menu she wants each day). We’ll create our weekly grocery list from this menu plan. We’re going to keep track of how many servings of fruits and vegetables we eat each day (goal is AT LEAST 5 a day…hopefully more).

If Sophia successfully packs (yes she’ll be packing her own lunch) and eats a healthy lunch each day – she’ll get a “bonus” at the end of the week (it may be financial or a credit towards something she wants). I got that idea from checking out the FOOD DUDES website. “Reward” is an important part of the program to change the way kids eat.

Sophia will go to the grocery store with me each week and will pick her favorite fruits and vegetables (participating in the process really gets our kids to “buy in” to the changes, as they have control).

I’m going to pay closer attention to see if this change in diet, also changes her behavior and how well she does in school. All the anecdotal research shows the change will be positive.

If you are interested in more ideas on how to help kids eat healthier, check out these websites: Fruits & Veggies More Matters — they even have shopping lists, community ideas and a section called “getting kids involved” and First Lady Michelle Obama’s inspired Let’s Move! website that is a great resource on exercise, eating healthy and more. Also, check out this New York Times article about doctors now writing “prescriptions for fresh produce” to fight childhood obesity.

To all the moms and dads reading this – I know that getting our kids to eat healthy is a big challenge. They want to be cool and eat cool foods (read: fast foods), or they don’t want to eat during the school day at all (and then totally gorge themselves when they get home from school). Just stick with it – that’s what I plan to do. I plan to have a dialogue (not a monologue) with my daughter so we are both on the same page. I would love to hear what you’re doing to help your kids eat healthier. Please share your comments here.

Best of health to you!

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