The kids are back to school – are you ready? Lunches, snacks and good nutrition, as well as more free time for parents, homework struggles and organization. Gina of Embracing Imperfect decided to gather a group of bloggers to share their best Healthy Back to School tips with you!
Moms, It’s Time for You to Eat Healthy
When we think about healthy back to school eating, we mostly think of our kids: what to make them for lunch, how to get in all of their nutritional requirements in a day, creating a filling breakfast they will actually eat, and quick dinners for school activity nights. As I’ve written before, it’s not easy to go GMO free and it’s really easy to whip up something clean for the kids and then do a “fallback” for me and my husband on conventional, fattening takeout foods. If you’re like me, you tend to leave yourself on the back burner way too often but that’s not fair to you – or your kids.
To be at your best, you simply must eat right as much as you can. I know, you’re thinking I’ll say, “your kids will thank me for that.” The heck with that! You’ll thank you for it! And on the flip side, you’ll absolutely know when you messed and ate something that tanked your whole day. I have totally been there – when a stupid breakfast choice made me mean, lazy and crabby. But being busy means choices need to be easy and doable. Here are my top tips for eating healthy when the kids go back to school
Tip #1: Always eat breakfast.
Always, always, always!! I know some people don’t, but I’m telling you it is bad for your blood sugar and you don’t want to mess around with that. Eat something every day within an 1-2 hours of getting up. Your best bet is something with protein in it, and make sure it’s something you like to eat. Start your day off with a breakfast that makes you happy.
How I Do It:
I love my morning coffee and it gets me excited for my morning me time. I sometimes make bulletproof with coconut oil and cinnamon in the blender (a “latte”!). I rotate foods I like, making sure I have 3-4 breakfast options on hand for the next day: organic gluten free cereal with almond milk and organic Stevia, sprouted English muffins with real butter or soy free spread, pastured organic eggs (with spinach if I have it), and oatmeal. There’s always protein in there somewhere. Plus if I run out of milk and butter, then I have eggs. If the eggs are out too, it’s oatmeal with fruit because I’d rather have no protein than no breakfast. And if I make the kids muffins for school or an event, you can be sure I squirrel away one for my coffee!
Tip #2: Double up dinner.
I always pack the kids leftover dinner for school but I’ve noticed over the summer that I’m more likely to eat if there’s a portion for me too. If you can make a super sized dinner, everyone can have a filling lunch and then you can east a smaller, easier meal the next night. This is ideal for nights full of extracurricular or school activities!
How I Do It:
We never ever ever throw anything out, so I believe this saves money. And even if there’s nothing but a handful of cauliflower popcorn leftover, while I do need a different option for the kids’ lunch, I can still eat that side. It’s critical that you put lots of veggies you like on the table. The kids will eventually get used to them and try them (if you’re lucky), and you can make a nice lunch for yourself out of it. Make sure you have lots of salad items on hand. Buy salad, sauerkraut, pickles and organic applesauce for easy sides.
Tip #3: Smoothies!
Ok so it’s midday and your stomach is growling but you can’t stop working. Smoothies don’t often fill me enough but they fulfill an important hurdle when I can’t stop for long. In fact, I’d rather have a smoothie than a sweet protein bar of any kind or granola. Here are 22 smoothie recipes – and 4 latte recipes to go with Tip #1!
How I Do It:
The beauty of a smoothie is that you can throw anything in there, like flax or chia seeds if you have a high powered blender. Be sure to make one with greens in it too, especially if you ‘re not all that keen on salads. Toss in vitamins or supplements or tea powder (be sure they don’t conflict) to give it more impact. Add protein powder if you’re going without lunch or need more bang for your slump.
Tip #4: Snack Like a Champ
School lunch requires a snack, in addition to complete lunch, for a kid to get through 6 hours of schoolwork Why do we think we need less for our own 7 or 8 hour work day? And why should our snacks be any less healthy? Teachers would have a collective freak out if I send the girls in with a candy bar – you shouldn’t eat that “fake” energy food for a snack either.
How I Do It:
I love some snacks by the handful – pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, nut. I love a pear or apple sunflower or almond butter, or slices of organic cheddar and crackers that have a healthy grain or are sprouted with grapes or berries. And yes, you can put the seeds or nuts on the side too! If you snack very wisely around a smoothie, you can go until dinner and it will be as filling as lunch.
Tip #5: Eat How You Like
Ever cook that fabulous meal and just NOT feel like eating? I hate that we have all these stupid food rules about when and how to eat, and I just don’t believe those over my body. You should be listening to your body anyway, but beware, you may go to bed hungry – never a good idea if you can avoid it.
How I Do It:
Maybe it has to do with how I worked out, or how I snacked or something else, but if I’m not inclined to eat, I’ll clean up instead. Often I’m hungry after that, but don’t feel compelled to eat when you don’t want to.
Tip #6: You Can Have Dessert
I love my mom but the worst thing she ever taught me was the daily dessert habit. And sadly, my own addiction to this means I’ve unwittingly taught the kids the same. My day does not feel “done” unless I’ve had a sweet at the end of it. If this describes you and you can have sweets, choose organic, lower sugar, cleaner sugar substitutes, eat only a little and if you like, make it yourself to create a healthier dessert.
How I Do It:
If it’s candy, then it’ll be one of the organic brands I love, like Justin’s peanut butter cups (which has soy, by the way so eat in moderation.) Or I choose organic chocolate hazelnut spread brand on organic berries. If it’s a cupcake, I’m in it for the good stuff – fresh made from my preferred baker, split in half to cover 2 days and chucking out off half of the frosting. Or, I make goodies from scratch, cutting back the sugar content (I often find gluten free recipes are too sweet) or replacing it, and add fruit or use coconut oil over butter.
That’s as strict as I can manage! Now that I’ve shared that, I’m putting the kids on a much stricter diet very soon and part of that requires meal planning. That means I’m taking my healthy eating tips and sharing them for the family. I think my next game plan is eating for 4, rather than chunking meals the way I do now: the kids eat, then me or me and my husband.
How will you get back to eating healthy this year?
More Back to School Ideas for 2015:
Need more ideas for this back to school season? Here are more post from my amazing fellow bloggers participating in this Healthy Back to School Event:
Giveaway (ENDED 9/14/15 – Congrats to our winner, Dawn!)
Talking about healthy back to school eating, we have an amazing giveaway JAM PACKED with goodies and treats from our participating vendors! Take a peak at all the prizees one winner will have delivered:
Alfie the Allergic Alligator Goes to School helps children begin to learn about food allergies and how to cope with the diagnosis. Alfie experiences several emotions as he deals with starting school among his non allergic peers. This book will encourage discussion and help children, parents, and teachers promote food allergy awareness and acceptance.
AllerMates: Lunchbox, choice of color
Beanfield Snacks: 1 case of chips (12 bags) in various flavors
Biena Foods: Biena Snacks variety pack, which includes a 5 oz bag of all of their 5 flavors
Blue Avocado: $50 (re)zip ultimate kit 10-piece reusable nontoxic storage bag kit
Boiron USA: $50 Cold & Flu Back-to-School Survival Kit
Don’t Go Nuts: one flavor, winner’s choice, of each of these: 16oz. jar of soy spread, 1 box of snack bars (12), 1
box of dips (8)
Enjoy Life: 2 boxes of chewy bars, 2 boxes of decadent bars & box of pancake mix
Good Health Snacks: Mickey Shaped Veggie Chips – 24 pack pantry box
Peter Rabbit Organics: 1 case of pouches (10)
Red Plate Foods: Sampler pack of their new granolas (Dark Chocolate, Vanilla Berry & Swirl)
Skinny Pop: 5 SkinnyPacks
Sneaky Chef: Chocolate No-Nut Butter and Creamy No-Nut Butter
SunButter: Gift Box
Stationery Studio: $50 gift card
StickerKid: 50 + FREE SHIPPING coupons for labels and wall decals
Stonyfield Organic: $50 worth of coupons and a bag full of Stonyfield goodies.
Sun Cups: Variety Pack
Surf Sweets: 30 bags of assorted single serve treats for a class party
WOWBUTTER: 1 Case (6 Jars)
Disclaimer: The participating blogs were not compensated for this post.
A special thanks to all the participating sponsors and their generosity!