“School’s out for summer. School’s out Forever!” Well, if you’ve got kids home with you, it may sometimes feel like it’s going to last forever, especially if you’re working hard to come up with healthy meals and snacks. But, it doesn’t have to be difficult. There are so many resources available for parents that want to feed their kids healthy, balanced meals. The most common resource available is the USDA MyPlate. The MyPlate icon provides a visual of what every plate should look like for every meal. With basic tips like filling half your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables, MyPlate makes nutrition easy both at home and on the go!
Based around the MyPlate concept, NCES has developed a line of Right-Sized portion products, including educational handouts and portion plates. For tots and kids, you can use the NCES handouts, A Healthy S.T.A.R.T. for Tiny Tots and A Healthy S.T.A.R.T. for Cool Kids. These handouts are packed full of super snack ideas, fantastic family meal must-haves and a table of healthy calorie intake ranges for children ages 2-12. They also focus on teaching the NCES S.T.A.R.T. concept for health and nutrition. And, let’s not forget food safety. While the kids are home with you this summer, it’s a great time to get them involved in preparing meals. When kids understand the foods they’re eating, they are more likely to choose healthy foods.
Portion plates are also an easy way to encourage healthy eating at every meal. Divided out to make sure that kids fill their plates with the right amount of foods from each food group, these plates make healthy meals an easy choice! Around the edge of the plate, kids can read about how to fit physical activity in to their day, as well as tips about choosing the right foods to fill each section of their plate.
So, there it is! A few simple tricks to make healthy meal planning an easy chore this summer. So, stop stressing about what to feed your kids and start enjoying the beautiful sunshine that comes with summer!
Are you ready to order your NCES Healthy S.T.A.R.T. handouts? Here are a few snack ideas that we pulled out for you to use until yours arrive! As always, if you have any questions, visit us at www.ncescatalog.com. Write on our wall at www.facebook.com/ncescatalog, or call us at 877.NCES.BOOKS.
- Dry Whole Grain Cereal
- Fun Fruit
- String Cheese
- Baked Tortilla Chips & Salsa
Do you remember that old commercial that used to play on all the major stations, “It’s 10:00 pm, do you know where your kids are?” This topic reminds me of that commercial… with a little twist! It’s lunchtime at school; do you know what your kids are eating? This may sound like a silly question, especially to those of us clued-in to the nutrition world. But, millions of parents send their children to school every day and don’t have a clue what they’re eating. Are they getting a school lunch or joining their friends at the vending machine? And, if their getting a school lunch, are the nutrition standards in your school cafeteria where they need to be for your child to grow up strong and healthy?
No matter what your school is doing to promote nutrition in eduation, the important thing is to educate children on how to make healthy choices as they’re walking through the cafeteria line. Whether you are the parent, the educator or the school food service director, educating kids on how to make healthy choices is how to make sure that they become lifelong healthy eaters. The truth is that no matter how hard schools try to provide healthy options, they still have to be appealing to kids. If the healthy foods provided don’t look as appealing, then kids may choose to not eat at all, which is just as bad as going to the vending machine. It’s important to help kids learn to choose the healthiest foods available to them. For example, a good lunch choice would be baked chicken breast, vegetable, fruit and milk instead of fried chicken strips, mashed potatoes and fruit salad or dessert with juice. And, remember, if you’re student just doesn’t seem to like any of the healthy options provided, you may want to consider packing a lunch to ensure that your child is getting the foods they need to stay full throughout the day.
Just remember this, it’s not only important to monitor what your children are eating today. Also educate them about how to make healthy choices for themselves. Are you looking for great ways to educate students of every age on health and nutrition? NCES offers a full line of educational handouts and portion plates aimed at educating tots, kids and teens! Check them out at the previous links! Plus, stick around next week as we’ll be going over tips for raising a healthy family directly from these handouts. See you then!
Here at NCES, we focus a lot on child and school nutrition! We have had the opportunity to work with schools all across the spectrum in school nutrition. Some don’t have much of a nutrition program at all, while others have great programs that are helping their students understand the importance of nutrition and educating them to make healthy choices in the lunchroom, at home, and everywhere else.
It’s no secret that schools are constantly under fire for not providing the resources that students need in order to make healthy choices and live a healthy lifestyle. However, it’s not every day that schools get the accolades they deserve for the strides that many have made to provide healthy school lunches and fitness opportunities.
So many schools across the country are participating in programs like the National Dairy Council and NFL’s Fuel Up to Play 60 program. When schools partner with Fuel Up to Play 60, students have the opportunity to participate in fun challenges and track their healthy eating and physical activity. Students work with their adult sponsors to complete ‘plays’ in their playbook and earn online rewards. Over 70,000 schools across the country currently participate in the Fuel Up to Play 60 program. If you have any other questions or want to learn more about Fuel Up to Play 60, visit their FAQ section here.
Schools are also taking steps to take unhealthy choices out of their student’s hands; like removing vending machines from their cafeterias. Pre-packaged foods are often very appealing to students. Not only are they super sweet, salty or flavorful, the flashy marketing and branding of these items makes them hard for kids to resist. Removing this temptation and showing students how great the healthy options can taste will help them develop lifelong habits of healthy eating. In February of this year, we were introduced to some new rules from the USDA that would make it harder for kids to find “sugar-filled candy, high-calorie sports drinks and greasy dishes” in their school lunchroom. Instead, healthy school lunches would be promoted. Read more about these new guidelines from CBS News here.
The gist of the story here is that many schools across the country are taking the steps necessary to foster a healthy eating and active environment for their students. Through participating in local and national programs, taking steps in their schools to remove unhealthy options and promote healthy choices, these schools are working together to save a generation. Congratulations to these schools for being pioneers in school nutrition. Keep up the great work!
We want to hear from you! What is your school doing to improve child and school nutrition in your community? What kind of results have you seen? Let’s all work together to encourage healthy lifestyles at home, at school and everywhere else! Share your ideas and stories here on the blog, our Facebook page or Twitter. Plus, you can always find the best in nutrition education at www.NCEScatalog.com.
Everybody’s walking! Well, as the weather gets nicer, it definitely seems like everyone is out walking. Are you? If not, do you find yourself wondering how they motivate themselves to get active? For some, going outside and getting the proper amount of physical activity isn’t always easy. Maybe you struggle because of time constraints, maybe it’s stress, or it may just simply be because you don’t enjoy it. But, no matter the reason you find yourself unmotivated, it’s important to learn how to motivate yourself and get active!
- Start Slow: By setting your goal too high, you’ll be shooting yourself in the foot before you even get started! (And, it’s hard to walk with an injured foot!) For starters, aim to walk for at least 15 minutes, 3 times per week. Then, increase the amount of time that you’re walking each day as you’re more comfortable. Then, when you’re a pro, you can starting getting active even more than 3 times per week, and for longer periods of time.
- Stay Hydrated: Did you know that water is one of the biggest energy boosters you can find? On the flipside, if your body is lacking water, you’ll find that you’re very low on energy and will struggle to get motivated to both get outside and to keep moving once you’re out.
- Do it Over Lunch: What do you spend most of your lunch break doing? For many of us, we spend it catching up with co-workers over a good meal. This is great social time. But, the longer you sit at the table, the more likely you’ll be to graze on food rather than stopping when you’re full. Instead, try eating your meal, then getting up and taking a walk either around the building or outside.
- Take a Buddy: Are you afraid you’ll miss your lunch buddies if you jump up from lunch too early? Talk them in to going with you! Most of the time, if you’re enjoying the activity with someone else, they can help motivate you to keep going. And, vice versa, you can keep them going as well!
Well, there you have it! 4 simple tips for getting started with your walking program this spring. Remember: start small and focus on creating the habit. Healthy habits like walking will keep your body healthy for a long time!
To get the habit started for many here in Kansas, we’re excited about the Walk Kansas program sponsored by K-State Research & Extension. The challenge is to get a team of 6 together and commit to ‘walking around the state of Kansas’. The circumference of Kansas is approximately 1200 miles. So, each team will commit to walking 1200 miles collectively. We’re putting teams together now. So, if you’re interested in getting involved, please reply on the blog or email us at email@example.com. As always, stop by www.NCEScatalog.com for all of your health and nutrition education materials.
Do you have a runny, stuffy and itchy nose? Of course you do, it’s Spring! Unless you’re one of the lucky few who don’t suffer spring allergies, I would recommend that you keep reading to learn more about allergies and the many different causes; some that you may not even be thinking of!
When you flip on the news every morning, you hear the local weatherman talking about the pollen and ragweed counts so you know what to expect from your allergies for the day. But, did you know that your runny nose may not have anything to do with what’s going on outside your body? Instead, it may have everything to do with what’s going on inside your body. For many people, food allergies or sensitivities can cause allergic reactions very similar to your common seasonal allergy. If this is the case, instead of resorting to allergy medication, simply adjusting the foods that you eat could cure the allergy symptoms that keep you inside on these beautiful spring days.
Here are a couple of clues that you may be suffering from food allergies: If you feel like you’re constantly taking medication and never feeling better, this is usually a sign that your allergies may be food related. Also, keep in mind that you shouldn’t discount food allergies if they only show up during this time of year. For many, eating habits change when spring arrives because of the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are sometimes the cause of food allergies. If this is you, we recommended speaking with a dietitian to decide what’s right for you. With their expertise in this field, your dietitian can point you in the right direction and help you enjoy an allergy free life no matter the season! For more information, you can also check out The Total Food Allergy Health & Diet Guide at the NCES website. As always, our products are hand selected and approved by dietitians, so you’re sure to get the best information available!