- by Moran Kilzi, Nutritionist, Nutrition and Food Safety Coordinator
Summer vacation is almost over and we’ll inevitably be returning to a daily routine. Along with normal activities, we should also return to proper dietary practices that will help improve children’s performance during school including a sense of alertness, concentration and even enhanced academic achievements.
The following article provides ideas for creating healthy eating habits for children.
In the morning:
It’s morning time, everyone is getting ready it’s time to sit down at the table for a light breakfast. It’s recommended to eat breakfast within an hour of waking up. Many studies have looked at the importance of breakfast and its impact on a child’s memory, concentration, alertness, calmness, and attentiveness during class. These studies also suggest an improvement in academic achievements and cognitive abilities of children who eat breakfast. A light breakfast will provide the body with the energy it needs after a night’s fast.
A good breakfast will include: whole grains and protein.
Healthy and easy breakfast ideas:
- Quaker Porridge (Oats + Milk / Water + Honey)
- Breakfast cereals filled with whole grains + milk
- Yogurt + cut fruit / homemade granola
- Banana smoothie (or other favorite fruit)
- A slice of whole wheat bread + cheese / hummus / tahini + vegetable
Part of a healthy eating routine should also include meals that are scattered throughout the day and after a light breakfast in order for a child to stay focused later in the day. Although the extended 10am break is intended to give the child a pause from learning, it also has an additional role, it is also intended to give the child time to eat and have his/her own meal. A healthy meal should also be satisfying and should include whole grains, protein, vegetables and fruit.
Ideas for a healthy and satisfying dinner:
- Whole wheat bread + omelet + chopped peppers + banana
- Whole wheat bun + cottage cheese with olives + cherry tomatoes + pear
- Whole wheat pita + tuna + sour cucumber + apple
- Whole wheat bread + hummus + cucumber + grapes
The spreads can also be varied with different cheeses, fats, avocado and tahini.
Once a week you can combine a sweet paste such as: jam, chocolate paste, tahini with honey, halva or peanut butter.
Health tip: Choose whole wheat bread over white bread because it contains dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals. It is important to make sure that the bread that is bought is whole wheat by looking at the ingredients that appear on the product packaging. It is important to choose bread with a first ingredient that is whole wheat /whole rye.
Creative tip: One of the ways to get your child to eat the 10am break snack is to diversify the meal packaging. For example, instead of putting the meal in a bag, try putting it in a simple plastic box and writing down a short note that will make your child eat with a smile. You can put chopped vegetables / cherry tomatoes and fruit into the box.
Many times children have a long school day that enters into the afternoon. If your child does not have lunch at school, it is important to equip them with another meal. This meal prevents them from being irritated by hunger and from purchasing unhealthy snacks. On a long school day you can switch between meals – for lunch make them a dairy, lighter meal and prepare a meat meal for them to eat at home in the evening. For lunch during school it’s recommended to include whole grains, protein, vegetables and fruit.
- Whole wheat bread + yellow / cream cheese + cucumber + natural yogurt + pear
- Whole wheat bread + hard boiled eggs + cherry tomatoes + banana
- Whole wheat pita + tuna + pickles + cut carrots + peach
Health tip: It is suggested to keep this meal in a small cooler so that it does not spoil by in the afternoon.
Just as with food, it is important to send the children with something to school. Water is preferred over sweet drinks which contain a lot of sugar and are unhealthy.
Summary & tips:
- If you do not have time in the morning to prepare your child’s meal, you can make sandwiches and vegetables the evening before.
- To save more time, prepare a weekly schedule in advance with your children listing the contents of their sandwiches.