As children head back to school, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to celebrate Kids Eat Right Month™ in August by ensuring children are properly fueled to grow and succeed.
“The start of the new school year is the perfect time to reinforce kids’ healthy eating habits,” says registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy spokesperson Malina Malkani. “It’s important that parents give their children the proper tools to make healthful eating choices, which will benefit them now and as they grow into adults.”
An initiative of the Academy Foundation’s Kids Eat Right program, Kids Eat Right Month is celebrated each August and emphasizes the importance of families knowing how to shop smart, cook healthy and eat right, featuring expert advice from registered dietitian nutritionists.
Malkani offers easy, practical tips for parents to ensure their children eat healthy and succeed in school:
Start the Day with Breakfast
“Start off the day with a nutritious, healthful breakfast. Research shows that children who eat breakfast tend to be more alert, learn better and are less likely to be overweight,” Malkani says.
“Make sure that your child’s breakfast includes lean protein and whole grains,” Malkani says. “And don’t skip the fruit. Pick out the produce children need for optimal health, such as bananas, strawberries or blueberries.”
Pack a Healthful Lunch
“Keep your child’s energy levels up with a healthful lunch packed with the nutrients they need to help them concentrate throughout the afternoon,” Malkani says. “For example, pack hummus and vegetables in a whole grain pita pocket with some apple slices.”
“Children also need to follow proper food safety practices to reduce the risk of food poisoning. Remind them to refrigerate their lunch within two hours, and if they don’t have access to a refrigerator, pack lunch in an insulated cooler with plenty of icepacks,” Malkani says.
Model Healthy Habits at Home
Parents are the most important role models for their children. Make time to enjoy a family dinner together. Research shows that families who eat together have a stronger bond,” Malkani says.
“If parents don’t have time to prepare a homemade meal after school, cook during the weekend, refrigerate and reheat,” Malkani says.