4 Healthy Tips for National Nutrition Month®
American kids consume up to 50 percent of their daily calories during the school day; that's why schools play such an important part in helping kids develop lifelong healthy habits. Eating right and staying active during the school day not only affects the health of school-age kids across the country, it also impacts their ability to learn and succeed. Research shows that healthy, properly nourished students are better able to concentrate on their work, miss school less often, and perform better in class.
In celebration of National Nutrition Month®, we offer four tips to help ensure your children are getting the nourishment they need to succeed in and out of the classroom.
#1 Celebrate with Non-Food Rewards
Using food as a reward for good behavior and achievements can encourage kids to eat outside of meal or snack times, even when they are not hungry. This can lead to over-eating and a habit that is difficult to break. Ask your child’s teacher about his or her classroom reward policy. Suggest healthy alternatives and practice them at home. Get started with these ideas:
- Create a “treasure box” with small trinkets such as pencils, stickers, erasers, or plastic bracelets.
- Give out tickets or tokens for a raffle or to save up for a larger prize.
- Reward with extra physical activity time before or after dinner or on the weekends.
- Host an active party like bowling, an obstacle course, a dance party, or kite-flying party.
#2 Start the Day with Breakfast
The most important meal of the day happens before your child leaves for school. Starting their day with a nutritious breakfast can help keep your child fit and focused through the school day. If mornings are hectic, school breakfast offers a convenient option for a morning meal. Talk to the principal or cafeteria manager to find out if breakfast is served in your child’s school.
#3 Make a Meal Plan
If your child purchases lunch at school, make time each week to sit down together to read the school menu and discuss the healthiest options so he or she can make informed choices at mealtime. Talk with your kids about the beverages and snacks available alongside school meals and available in vending machines or the school store. Encourage healthy choices such as fruit, water, low-fat (1%) or fat-free milk, and 100% juice.
#4 Go the Extra Mile
A healthy school needs support from health advocates like you. Connect with your child’s principal, the school board, or food service department to inquire about ways to support existing health-promoting initiatives and offer ideas for ways make the school a healthier place for every child. Get started with these ideas:
- Tell teachers and school staff that you value their efforts to provide healthy foods and beverages at school.
- Join your child on a “cafeteria date” to see how the school is supporting your child’s nutrition.
- Organize a “healthy” fundraiser, like a walk-a-thon, a school swag sale, or a school talent show.
- Bring in healthy snacks for school parties and encourage extra recess or active party games.
- Ask if the school is a member of Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program, which provides free support to more than 42,000 schools across the country.
What tips do you have for ensuring kids get the nourishment they need for a healthy future? Share your ideas on social media with the hashtag #NationalNutritionMonth and mention @HealthierGen.