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Archive | Back 2 School

Healthy lunch and snack ideas for back to school

(BPT) – If schools and parents received report cards on the lunches they’re serving kids, most wouldn’t receive a passing score. Many lunches, whether served at school or brought from home, are made with bleached flour, artificial sweeteners, food coloring, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial preservatives, hormones and trans fats. Studies have shown that these ingredients are linked to weight gain, defects in insulin and lipid metabolism, hyperactivity, increased risk of tumors, cancer, digestive issues, asthma, premature heart attacks, diabetes, and overexposure and resistance to antibiotics. Some of these ingredients are even banned in other countries.
As a parent, what can you do to keep your child healthy? Life Time – The Healthy Way of Life Company, suggests checking in with your child’s school to learn where foods are sourced, the nutritional values and ingredients in order to make informed decisions.
“The more highly processed foods are, the more likely they are to contain the seven unsavory ingredients. Meaning they are foods it’s best to find alternatives for,” says Laura Burbank, a registered dietitian with the Life Time Foundation.
“We encourage parents to speak with school nutrition directors and cafeteria managers about reducing the amount of highly processed and artificial items served in their lunch rooms, in favor of wholesome, real foods, and we’re able to help parents throughout that process,” Burbank says.
Until changes are made, Burbank advises actively engaging kids—starting when they’re young—in packing lunch at home. “Getting kids involved in packing their lunches makes them more likely to eat and enjoy them,” says Burbank. “They feel helpful and they’re learning along the way.” She says it’s important to include a protein, whole grains, fresh fruit, vegetables and healthy fats with every meal, and provides some ideas below.
Lunch box option one:

* Lunch: turkey or ham sandwich with avocado and spinach on whole grain bread. Look for meat that is free of hormones, antibiotics, nitrates, artificial preservatives and other additives.
* Snack: orange slices and string cheese.
Lunch box option two:

* Lunch: grilled chicken breast, avocado and roasted bell pepper or shredded carrots in a whole grain pita with a Greek yogurt based dressing or pesto.
* Snack: apple slices and almond butter. If your child’s school has a strict nut-free lunchroom guideline, include Greek yogurt with vanilla and/or honey.
Lunch box option three:

* Lunch: a wholesome PB&J made with almond butter and 100 percent fruit preserves on whole grain bread.
* Snack: hard boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers with Greek yogurt based vegetable dipping sauce, or pita chips and peppers with hummus.
Healthier lunch room choices
Burbank notes that sometimes making lunch at home isn’t a viable option. If that’s the case, she suggests parents discuss healthy lunch room options with their kids, as studies have shown that in addition to nutritional benefits, healthier diets also associate with higher academic performance. Things to consider include:
* Choose a salad when available to include more vegetables in the meal.
* Choose white milk over chocolate milk to cut down on sugar intake.
* Choose 1 percent milk over skim or non-fat milk, the higher fat content is more satiating.
* Choose whole grain pasta over bread that may contain bleached flour and preservatives.
* Choose red pasta sauce (vegetable-based) over cream sauce (high in fat).
* Choose fresh fruit over canned fruit which may contain artificial colors, preservatives and sweeteners.
Parents should also be encouraged to talk to the nutrition directors and cafeteria managers about reducing the amount of highly processed and artificial items in the school meals. The Life Time Foundation is a great resource for more information on this.
The Life Time Foundation partners with schools to help them remove highly processed and artificial ingredients from school meals by providing resources and assisting with menu development. For more information on how your school can get involved, visit www.ltffoundation.org.

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Regular exercise can help kids do better in school


PHOTO SOURCE: (c) Build Our Kids Success

PHOTO SOURCE: (c) Build Our Kids Success

(StatePoint) Physical activity may not be the first thing parents or teachers think about when they want to boost a child’s academic performance, but evidence supports the notion that a bit of exercise for the body is beneficial to the brain as well.

In fact, kindergarteners who participated in Build Our Kids’ Success (BOKS), a free before-school program involving physical activity and nutrition education, had significantly improved memory skills as rated by teachers, compared to their peers who did not participate. A study of the children’s performance also concluded that those who participated in the program exhibited good behavior in the classroom.

“A sedentary life and poor eating habits can lower kids’ performance in the classroom and start a cycle of health problems later in life,” says Kathleen Tullie, Founder and Executive Director of BOKS and the Director of Social Responsibility for Reebok. “Simply stated, a healthy body and a healthy brain go hand in hand.”

So how can you incorporate more healthy habits into your family’s routine?

• Active weekends: Instead of a lazy Saturday or Sunday, get outside and get moving. Take a soccer ball to the park for a pick-up game or hike a local trail. Make exercise on the weekends a regular habit for your family, and those habits will extend to the rest of the week as well.

• Fuel throughout the day: A hearty breakfast sets kids up for a great day. Follow that up with a healthful, satisfying lunch and snacks such as nuts and fruit, to help kids avoid the pitfalls of the junk food machines.

• Cook together: Take-out is great when you’re crunched for time, but be sure to cook at home at least a few times a week. Not only are homemade meals one of the only ways you can be exactly sure of what you’re feeding your family, but the act of cooking together is a great opportunity to impart some lessons about nutrition and eating right.

• Bed time: Adequate sleep is crucial for a healthy, functional mind and body. Setting a regular bedtime and sticking to it is best to ensure kids get a full night’s rest.

• Volunteer to get your school involved: Children should have one hour or more of physical activity daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unfortunately, physical education class may not be sufficient. Investigate what other opportunities your child’s school has for physical activity, such as before school programs like BOKS or after school sports. If your school doesn’t have such a program in place, look into starting BOKS at your school.

BOKS, for example, can be run by anyone — parents, teachers, the school nurse or a community activist. To learn more, visit www.BOKSKids.org.

Healthy habits will not only reduce your child’s risk for such problems as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, they can help prime children for more success inside the classroom and beyond. So give your children a leg up and encourage them to get moving.


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Immunizations should top Back-to-School List

GRAND RAPIDS – It’s that time of year – parents will be buying new clothes and school supplies as kids prepare to go back to school. Health and disease prevention should be on the “to do” list. Michigan law requires children receive specific immunizations before they start school. August is National Immunization Awareness Month. Make sure your child is up-to-date on immunizations this year.

“Safe, effective vaccines protect children against a number of illnesses, such as chicken pox, diphtheria, measles, mumps, pertussis, polio, and tetanus, to name a few,” according to Adam London, Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department. “Some of these illnesses can be deadly. Make sure your children are protected according to the schedules based on CDC guidelines.” The Kent County Health Department has a list of vaccinations, and when children should receive them, posted at: http://www.accesskent.com/Health/Immunizations.

The World Health Organization estimates that timely vaccinations save between 2 and 3 million people worldwide every year. Children should receive most of their vaccinations by the time they are 18 months old. There are some additional vaccinations that are not only required by the state of Michigan for school but recommended for all children at 4-6 years of age, and again at 11 or 12 years.

Even adults need to think about immunizations. Last year, Kent County saw a surge in confirmed flu cases reporting to doctors’ offices and emergency departments. Annual flu vaccinations are now recommended for all individuals, ages 6 months and older. Adults, especially those who are pregnant or plan to be around infants, should talk to their health care provider about a Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) vaccine.

The Kent County Health Department has several locations where children and adults can receive routine immunization services. Individuals who qualify for the Vaccines for Children Program (VFC) or the Michigan Vaccine Replacement Program (MI-VRP) are eligible to receive certain vaccines free of charge at the Kent County Health Department. Individuals with no insurance or those whose insurance does not cover immunizations will be charged a sliding fee scale vaccine administration fee based on income for each injection given. The Kent County Health Department bills Medicaid, but does not bill private insurance, so check for coverage before visiting any Health Department Clinic. Call (616) 632-7200 if you have any questions or want to schedule an appointment.

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Back to School Bites


Family Features


When it comes to packing lunches and after school snacks for your little ones, it’s easy to get into a rut. But by making a few delicious and convenient choices in the grocery store, you can break away from the same old sandwich routine and serve up nibbles and noshes your kids will love.

Whether your star pupils prefer a savory dip, a light and salty snack or a chewy fruit bar, here are a few great choices you can pack.


B2S-popcornPop Up Some Fun

For back-to-school snacking, you can’t beat popcorn. Pop up a bowl and let the fun flavor creations begin — sweet, savory or with just a dash of salt. Popcorn is a grab-n-go treat that takes minutes to make. Plus, it’s whole grain and contains fiber to fuel the body and keep you feeling fuller longer than other snacks. This beloved treat is also economical, costing mere pennies per serving. For more information, visit www.popcorn.org.



B2S-sabraDip It Up

For a quick burst of flavor at home or on the go, try Sabra Classic Singles with veggies, pita bread, pita chips or crackers. These 2-ounce servings of creamy Classic Hummus are perfect for the lunchbox or on-the-go snacking and portable enough to bring along on any adventure. For more information, visit www.sabra.com.


B2S-fig-barFuel Their Day

Help them have a great day at school by serving those little learners the proper fuel. With a commitment to creating all natural snacks you can feel good about giving your kids, Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars are cholesterol free, dairy free and kosher. From the sweetness of Blueberry to the tartness of Lemon, these bars are available in a variety of jam-packed, fruity flavors. For more information, visit www.naturesbakery.com.


B2S-yogurtServe a Satisfying Snack

Do you need an easy way to pack more protein, calcium and other nutrients into your family’s diet? You can’t go wrong with a kid-friendly kitchen staple like low-fat yogurt. With a wide array of textures, consistencies and flavors, there are sure to be several varieties that even the pickiest eater will enjoy. Take these beloved flavors to new heights with toppings such as dried fruit, organic granola, dark chocolate and coconut shavings.


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Ensure your student athletes are ready for the season

PHOTO credit: (c) Dusan Kostic - Fotolia.com

PHOTO credit: (c) Dusan Kostic – Fotolia.com

(StatePoint) For many kids, playing sports is an important part of growing up, and that’s a good thing. Sports are a great way for children and adolescents to develop lifelong exercise habits, build relationships, and learn teamwork.

“Parents can play a vital role in ensuring young athletes train and condition properly,” says Dr. James M. Perrin, 2014 president of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). “From staying hydrated to wearing safety gear, kids may need periodic reminders.”

Here are ways to help your child avoid common sports hazards:


Athletes will reduce their risk of injury by strengthening muscles to protect vulnerable ligaments. This is especially important in certain sports, including soccer, football, basketball, volleyball, gymnastics and lacrosse, in which athletes are prone to injuring their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which provides stability to the knee.

Girls need to be especially careful, according to statistics. Adolescent girls are four to eight times more likely to suffer ACL injuries than boys, according to the AAP.

Neuromuscular training programs that strengthen hips, the core muscles and hamstrings can significantly reduce one’s risk for injury. This training will help athletes improve their form and have a greater awareness of how to safely pivot, jump and land.

Stay Hydrated

Water is the best way for kids to stay hydrated while playing or exercising. Sports and energy drinks are heavily marketed to children and adolescents, but in most cases kids don’t need them and some of these products contain ingredients that could be harmful to children.

Sports drinks that contain carbohydrates and electrolytes can be helpful for young athletes engaged in prolonged, vigorous exercise, but in most cases, they’re unnecessary. Plain water is usually best, as sports drinks contain extra calories and sugar. Energy drinks, which contain stimulants like caffeine, are not healthy for children or teens, according to the AAP.

Read the label to know exactly what you’re giving your child. When in doubt, stick to water.

Protect Your Head

Because young athletes’ brains are still developing, it’s important to take head injuries seriously. Adolescent concussions can cause long-term brain injury. If your young athlete sustains a concussion, he or she should be evaluated by a physician and receive medical clearance before returning to play. While concussion symptoms usually resolve in seven to 10 days, some athletes may take weeks or months to recover, and some students may need accommodations at school during this recovery.

Don’t Overdo It

The most common type of sports injury is from overuse. Ignoring pain can worsen the injury and cause long-term damage.

“The best way for parents to prevent overuse injuries is to pay attention to their child’s training schedule,” Perrin says.

Limit your child to a single sport or team per season, and the training schedule to no more than five days per week. Alternating sports can help avoid burnout.

More sports safety tips can be found at www.HealthyChildren.org.

While sports are an important part of childhood with critical health benefits, parents, coaches and athletes should work together to make sure children participate safely.



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Ten simple ways to ease back-to-school stress


(BPT) – Helping your child ease into the school year sets them up to succeed both academically and socially. But making the transition from the lazy days of summer to the hectic pace of back to school can be overwhelming, for you and your kids. Between school supply shopping, extracurricular activities, homework, and the daily lunch box routine, where’s a busy parent to start?

Nicole Feliciano, founder of the popular blog MomTrends.com and mother of two kids says it’s important for parents to have a back-to-school plan. “As a working mom, I understand that it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos and excitement of back to school. Preparation is important for a successful transition, so I’ve put together a few of my go-to’s to help families stay on schedule this year.”

BACK-Ten-simple-ways2Here are her go-to tips to help you seamlessly transition from summer to back-to-school season:

1. Proactively adjust wake-up times

Start your family’s wake-up routine a few weeks before school starts to get kids adjusted to earlier alarm clocks. Keep in mind that children between ages 5 and 12 should sleep between 10 to 11 hours each day, and teens need a little over 9 hours of sleep each night to function best, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

2. Establish a routine

Get in a rhythm as research shows that kids with daily family routines are more emotionally and socially advanced, particularly for pre-school-aged kids. A recent analysis found that each daily ritual increased the likelihood of a child having high social-emotional health by 47 percent.

3. Encourage healthful snacking

Promote nutritious eating behaviors by stocking the pantry with wholesome, after-school snacks. Companies like NatureBox, which delivers a monthly box of kid-approved snacks straight to your door, are a great way to save time and stress. Then designate a drawer where kids can find tasty treats like NatureBox’s Carrot Strawberry Fruit Chews and Santa Fe Corn Stix to help boost energy and maintain focus until dinnertime.

4. Make a family calendar

Keep everyone on the same page with a family calendar displayed prominently in the kitchen or study space. It’s a powerful tool to help keep track of open houses, school carnivals and conferences. Better yet, encourage your kids to add their own events to the calendar to get them engaged in the planning process.

5. Create a chore chart 

Making visual reminders, like a chore chart, helps kids keep up with their responsibilities at home, while juggling school obligations. Simply list each of your family members’ names followed by specific chores for each day of the week, then hang the chart on the fridge or make copies for each child’s bedroom.

6. Enhance the lunch box

Guess what? The average shopping trip to the grocery store takes 41 minutes. Save yourself hassle and gas money by shopping online for key lunchbox staples, like tasty snacks. NatureBox delivers five different snacks each month from a selection of over 100 delicious, nutritionist-approved options your kids are sure to love. You can choose specific snacks or opt to have NatureBox surprise you based on your kids’ specific taste preferences and dietary needs. Learn more at NatureBox.com.

7. Decide on screen time

Set screen time limits for weekdays and weekends to make sure your kids spend enough time focusing on homework and playing outside.

8. Create a study space

Foster a productive, distraction-free area where your kids can read, study and do homework. Simply designate a place for studying that’s quiet and has plenty of supplies to help your A-student stay focused and motivated.

9. Prep in the evenings

Save time and prevent headaches each morning by planning ahead the evening prior. Have children pick out their clothes, pack backpacks, and get lunches ready for the next day before they go to bed. Then when morning arrives, all they need to do is eat, get dressed, and head out the door.

10. Cut paperwork chaos

Reduce the paper panic brought on by permission slips, health documents and fundraising packets by asking your child for school forms every day after school to ensure nothing gets lost. Fill them out promptly, make copies if necessary, and file them in color-coded folders for easy access.

For more back-to-school tips, visit MomTrends.com, and to save time with NatureBox’s convenient snack delivery, visit www.NatureBox.com.






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