Fall is the busiest time for parents and student-athletes heading back to school as all have a busy schedule and are re-adjusting to the hectic hours. Anxiety, stress and feeling overwhelmed are major factors that affect everyone, especially as the school year progresses and the activities begin to pile up.
Planning meals and snacks for kids feels like a full-time job that parents often just don't have the time for. Everyone knows that eating healthy and staying hydrated will minimize stress and anxiety, yet many parents feel that it’s a monumental task to change the eating habits of their kids and simply fall back on processed, highly-sugared, convenience food.
Most schools do not offer nutrition guidelines and healthy snacks to young athletes. Not only will poor nutrition jeopardize your child’s athletic performance, but very often, will cause an increase in injuries.
Here are some simple and healthy ideas that can help your athlete to eat better at school:
++Cook ahead of the time: Batch cooking works. Preparing food in advance means spending less on eating out, eating healthier, and spending less time cooking and cleaning.
++Prepare shopping list with your kids: Ask them to substitute unhealthy items with healthier choices, such as swapping out sweet yogurt with M&M’s for something more nutritious.
++Plan healthy lunches and snacks ahead of the time: Ask your kids to write down what would they like to bring to school. This will minimize arguments during the week.
++Read food labels carefully: Pay attention to added sugar, fructose, sucrose and lactose amounts! Remember, everything that ends with the letters “OSE” equals “sugar.”
++Read the ingredients list: Ingredients are organized by weight in order of the quantity used. The fewer ingredients, the better. If you cannot pronounce the ingredients, don't bother to eat them.
++Focus on quality and not quantity or calories: Often, food companies will label a product “fat free,” but will add extra sugar and chemicals for stability.
Be smart, be educated, ask questions, and ask for help.
Irina Belfer-Lehat of Nutrition Solutions Co. is a New York State-licensed dietitian and certified dietitian-nutritionist. Irina Lehat RD Nutrition Solutions offers group classes starting in September, for kids in kindergarten through high school. Small groups, affordable prices! Mention this article and receive 20 percent off any services. For more information, call (917) 769-8031, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.irinalehat.com.