Now that summer is coming to a close, families are thinking about and planning for back-to-school season. With new schedules and busy calendars of activities, this can be a stressful time of year, which is when many of us let healthy habits slip away. But this is a particularly important time to encourage positive habits because kids will be spending more time away from parents and alongside the influences of their schoolmates.
Just in time for back-to-school season, here are 10 natural health habits to consider trying with your kids to start the school year off right.
Start the Day with a Healthy Breakfast
A healthy day starts first thing in the morning, so set your alarms early enough so that you have time to provide kids with an energizing breakfast that doesn’t weigh them down. Packaged cereal is quick and convenient but often packed with sugar. Instead, consider serving eggs, whole grain toast, or yogurt with pomegranate or fresh berries.
Cut Sugar Out of Meals and Snacks
You might be surprised how much sugar is lurking in so many of the foods we eat, especially the ones marketed to children. Sugar isn’t just in cookies and doughnuts; it’s also in things like salad dressings, pasta sauces, and ketchup. Take note of added sugar on packaged food labels, avoid sugary beverages as much as possible, and choose fruit over fruit juice.
Have Fun Exercising Every Day
Exercising comes easy to kids who love to run and play with their friends at school. Encourage your little ones to get active after school and on weekends to by playing games in the backyard, sports at the local park, or hiking with you on nearby trails.
Plan Ahead for Healthy Snacks
Healthy eating habits don’t always come easily because pre-packaged foods are quick and convenient to grab when you’re in a rush. To prepare for those times when kids get hungry throughout the day, pack healthy snacks when they leave in the morning. Greek yogurt, baby carrots, hummus, apples, and almonds are all good choices.
Watch Portion Sizes
In American culture, food portion sizes are out of control for both kids and adults. As your kids head back to school, fill half of their plates with fruits or vegetables at meals. One remaining quarter should be a healthy protein, such as fish, and the other quarter a nutritious starch, such as quinoa or sweet potatoes.
Know What’s in School Lunches
The quality of school lunches varies from one school to the next, so get access to the school lunch menu so you know what’s being served to your kids. If there are lots of fast-food options on the menu with little nutritional value, discuss the issue with your school administrators.
Start an Organic Garden at School
A fun way to help kids get to know the difference between healthy and unhealthy foods is to help start a community garden at the school. Curriculum about growing and eating healthy foods can often be incorporated into science, health, and physical education classes.
Make Time for Family Meals
As much as possible, work time into your family’s busy schedules to cook and eat healthy meals at home. Focus these meals on whole, natural foods that you can teach your kids about rather than pre-packaged frozen options that are packed with sugar, sodium, calories, and fat.
Get Enough Sleep
Kids need plenty of sleep during back-to-school time to fuel their energy and help them be productive in the classroom. Kids between the ages of six and 13 generally need nine to 11 hours of sleep per night.
Have a Natural First-Aid Kit
It’s also a smart idea to stock a natural first-aid kit in the house, and perhaps in the car too, when the kids go back to school. This way, you’ll be prepared for the minor cuts, scrapes, rashes, and bruises that happen on the playground and during after-school activities. Good homeopathic remedies to have on-hand are Olive Leaf Cut and Wound Remedy, Bye Bye Burns, and Pediatric Ear Remedy.