Whether your kid is starting kindergarten or you’re back in the office, these 5 simple tips can help you and your family eat nutritious and delicious foods throughout the school year. Although it might be easier to let the kiddos eat at school, the meals from the cafeteria are usually loaded with refined carbs and lack vital nutrients that homemade whole food snacks and meals can provide. Not only do kids benefit from foods packed from home, but having a brown bag yourself can help you resist the temptation for soda, choco-lattes, donuts, pizza, candy and other office junk food. The good new is, with a little planning and some preparation, you can learn to juggle a hectic schedule without compromising your family’s health or packing on the pounds.
1. Choose Whole Foods
No matter how you spend your day, strive for natural whole foods over man-made processed products. Whole foods, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, meats, poultry, and fish are high in nutrients that support your health. In contrast, processed products, such as crackers, chips, cookies, snack bars, pretzels, and 100-calorie packs spike insulin levels and provide few nutrients. In general, the less refined a food is, the more nutrients it contains.
2. Ask For Help
Let your spouse and kids help you create a grocery list, read food labels, plan a menu, find recipes, pack lunches and snacks, prepare a salad, wash vegetables, or do the dishes. With some family teamwork, it will be much easier for everyone to have fun eating healthy together.
3. Eat a Protein-Rich Breakfast
Although these might sound like “healthy” choices, processed breakfast foods such as: cereal and low-fat milk, a bagel and low-fat cream cheese, or a muffin and juice are low in nutrients and can make you sluggish and sleepy. In contrast, breakfasts packed with protein provide you with energy and focus for an amazing day. The next time you have breakfast, think outside the cereal box and enjoy some brain-boosting protein-rich foods such as eggs, cottage cheese, meatballs or any leftover meat from last night’s dinner.
4. Pack Lunches & Snacks
Failure to prepare is preparing to fail. Plan ahead by packing healthy snacks and a lunch from home so you’ve got something nutritious to eat throughout the day. Easy snacks to pack include: apple and walnuts, almond butter and celery, carrots and hummus, yogurt and berries. Quick brown bags include: roast beef roll-ups, ham and apple stacks or pulled pork tacos. Boost nutrients by choosing greens such as spinach, arugula or broccoli, over grains such as bread, pasta and pizza. “Sprouted” or sourdough breads are healthier grain options to “whole wheat.”
5. Add Vegetables at Dinner
Dinner is the perfect opportunity to try new foods like different vegetables. One easy way to incorporate more veggies into your meal is to start with a salad or nibble on raw veggies as an appetizer. Vegetables make a great addition to any meal. You can add a healthy fat to veggies to increase their nutritional value and add flavor. Try adding pastured butter to broiled asparagus or olive oil to sliced tomatoes. Aim for at least 2 cups of veggies at every meal.