School Days

It’s officially school season in our household (and probably yours, too).  This is the first full week of all-day everyday pre-school for my kids.  We eased into it last week with just two days in the books which was kind of a nice preview for our days to come.

Along with school season comes a few more food challenges as kids embark out of our summertime bubble and into the real world.  Here are a few I’m anticipating:

Lunch

I’ve gotta admit, I’m a little geeked about packing school lunches.  We invested in a Yumbox for each of the kids and it has become a fun little adventure coming up with ideas to fill each of the sections.  Ask me in 4 months if it’s still a “fun little adventure” and I may have a different response.  For now, I’m enjoying it.  Here are some tips for school lunches:

  • Keep it simple.  Many kids are on a time crunch and don’t have time for big meals.  Not to mention they have new distractions and friends that are occupying their time.
  • Keep it familiar.  School lunch is not the best time to introduce a brand new food.  Try new things at home first before including it in your child’s lunch box.  That gives you a chance to explain it and/or see how they like it.
  • Keep it real.  It’s tempting to gravitate toward unhealthy convenience foods as an option for school lunch.  However, kids need real food now more than ever.  They need the proper fuel and nutrition to keep them alert and attentive during the school day.

Snacks

We don’t do morning snack in our household.  School does, though.  Luckily, our school asks that each student bring his/her own snack each day.  I was relieved to hear this because their previous school provided snack and I was unhappy with many of the choices and portions.  (Yes, I’m a self-diagnosed control freak.)  Here are some tips for school snacks:

  • Keep it small.  Snack time most likely isn’t too far away from lunch time.  The odds of your child eating a good lunch are greater if snack doesn’t completely fill him/her up.
  • Keep it light.  Heavy foods = lethargy.  Kids need to be the opposite of lethargic on a school day.  Choose light and energy-boosting snacks like popcorn, nuts, raisins, or fruit.
  • Keep it clean.  Kids are messy.  Plain and simple.  Keep it easy on the teacher and send foods that require little or no clean up.

In-Class Parties

I know I’ll never escape the evil that is in-school birthday and holiday celebrations.  I’m all about a party, but what I’m not all about is the food that goes along with it.  My kids are in a class of 21 kids.  That means there will be 18 days of cupcakes, cookies, donuts, and other foods that are not part of our diet.  Don’t forget about Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and other random food rewards.  My son told me that he said “no thank you” to an M&M reward that was offered to him the other day.  Proud (control freak) mom moment right there.  Here are some tips for dealing with in-class junk:

  • Keep it balanced.  On days when you know your child will be eating unusual, sugary, junk treats – bump up the nutrient content more than normal in his/her other meals that day.
  • Keep calm.  Reacting very negatively in front of your kids about junk foods offered at school can backfire.  Instead, tell your child it’s ok that he/she ate it and calmly discuss what ingredients might be in that food and why it’s not the best choice.

Here’s to a wonderful school year!

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