“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.
Well… it’s so hard to believe! But, August is here, which means that school will be starting soon for so many kids across the country. With school starting, everyone’s schedules get turned upside down, our routines get thrown out the window, and we have to go back to the drawing board to create a new schedule for the whole family. In this whole shuffle, it is often easy to forget about nutrition and good eating habits, especially at school. That is why it is super important to encourage healthy habits at home, that your children can take with them when they go to school.
The most important thing to remind children of is to monitor the amount of water they are consuming. When school starts, it is usually still very hot outside. Plus, many back-to-school activities are held outside. So, it is important that your kids remain hydrated. Make it a game! Discuss with your kids how many bottles of water they should drink while at school. ( 24-32 oz. is a great goal) If you think it may be easier, you can also just remind them to stop by the water fountain during every break and take a big drink. They may not know exactly how much they are drinking. But, it gives them a good goal to reach for. Have them keep track throughout the day and report back to you when they get home. Of course it is on their honor, but you could even have a reward established for reaching, and exceeding the goal.
Another important aspect of good nutrition when returning to school is the foods that your children consume during lunch. Unfortunately, many school lunch programs offer a lot of foods that your child does not need to be consuming. This food packs in the calories and oftentimes provides no nutritional value, leaving your child’s body needing more. When their bodies aren’t getting the fuel they need, they will not learn as well and will struggle to pay attention in class. This is why it is so important that your children eat foods from each food group to remain fueled and focused.
The bottom line is that you have been monitoring your children’s nutritional habits all summer; many times without even having to give it much thought. So, now that they are back at school, it is easy to just assume their nutritional needs are taken care of. However, that isn’t always the case. Parents need to be involved in teaching children how to make positive, healthy choices. Need some help? NCES has developed two great new handouts geared towards helping Tots (ages 2-6) and Kids (ages 6-12) make healthy choices, all based on the USDA’s new MyPlate. If you have any questions about them, be sure to contact us through Facebook, Twitter, email or phone.