EDITORIALS

Back to School with Good Nutrition

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

During the summer break, a child’s healthy eating often takes a vacation too. Now that school is back in session, it’s time to refocus your efforts to ensure that your children’s nutrition and physical activity habits get back on track.

Breakfast is a crucial meal for developing children. Benefits to children eating a nutritious breakfast include: a higher school attendance rate, less tardiness and fewer hunger-induced stomachaches in the morning. Studies have also shown higher overall test scores, better concentrate levels, problems can be more easily solved and better muscle coordination result when a child begins their day with a healthy breakfast. So be sure that your children eat a nutritious breakfast every day whether it is at home or at school.

If your child is eating lunch at school, take time to review the menu with them and discuss how they can build a healthful and nutritious meal they will enjoy. Their choices should include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and low fat or fat-free dairy at every meal.

If you are a mom who packs your children’s lunches, take them to the grocery with you to shop and allow them to pick out healthy foods with your guidance that they enjoy. They are much more likely to eat what you pack if they have picked it out themselves.

Children who are involved in afterschool activities will need a healthy snack that they can eat prior to the activity. Good choices are fruit or vegetables slices, 100% fruit juice and whole grain crackers with low fat cheese which will provide them with energy they will need to make it to dinner.

Routine physical activity is also essential to a child’s development. Not all children like sports; however, there are still many ways they can get that activity on a daily basis at school and at home. Involving the entire family in physical activity is a great way to spend time together and helps everyone get the amount required.

Engage your children in conversations that help you to learn the foods that they like and to help teach them about the foods they need for their growing bodies. This will help ensure that they have the knowledge and ability to eat healthy and tasty foods at every meal.

For more information about this topic and other AgCenter nutrition programs contact Robin B. Landry at the Assumption Parish LSU AgCenter Extension Office at 985-369-6386 or rlandry@agcenter.lsu.edu.