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5 Nutrition Hacks During the School Year

The hustle and bustle of a new routine and new schedule can really throw off our progress if we aren't prepared for it. Here are 5 hacks that will help you stay on track and teach your children some healthy habits in the process.
  • Hack #1: Positive Mindset
So many times when a routine is about to change, we get anxiety and dread the change. This has happened to me when my kids phase out of naps, potty training, starting school, and pretty much every other transition we have gone through so far. All of these things cause me more anxiety than the kids, because I'm trying to hang onto the last phase we were in. Nap times mean for a little less chaos. Diapers mean less responsibility in having to run kids to the potty and sing the potty songs. And we all dread the first day of kindergarten, having to accept that our babies are growing before our eyes. But, none the less time doesn't stop and transition needs to happen. So rather than trying to stop time, transitions run a little more smoothly when we mentally embrace the fact that change is about to happen.

A positive mindset and mental preparedness goes a long way.
  • Hack #2: Enjoy a High Protein Breakfast
Mornings aren't everyone's cup of tea. I get it. I am not a morning person by any means, but I have learned to enjoy my egg breakfast creations.

Having a higher protein breakfast will allow you to start the day with more balanced blood sugar levels. If you start the day with a higher carb meal like donuts, oatmeal, toast, and/or bagels, your blood sugar spikes and then comes crashing down later.

Some examples of a high protein breakfast could look like:
* A quick protein shake with fruit or peanut butter
* Eggs, turkey sausage/bacon, and veggies
* Protein pancakes with a scoop of protein powder in with eggs and oats all mixed together
* Cottage cheese and peaches/other fruit

These options all have a protein, carb, and fat.
Cereals, Toast, Bagels, Donuts...these all are solely carbs and maybe fat...but very little protein to help you start your day off right.
  • Hack #3: Prep Lunches The Day Before
Whether you are preparing your child's lunch or your own lunch for work, it's a good habit to think about it the night before. Not only will you save time in the morning, but you will be less likely to just throw unhealthy things into the mix.

I know when I am in a hurry, I am less likely to choose healthy things compared to when I have a little more time to think. And let's face it...not all mornings are rainbows and butterflies. I have to get a 6 year old ready for first grade who refuses to let me comb her hair. Plus get 2 boys in the car that can't find their shoes and magically make their clothes disappear when I turn the other way to attend to one of my other children. Thinking ahead and preparing as much as I can the night before is always a lifesaver.
  • Hack #4: No Need To Meal Prep For The WEEK, Make Dinner Your Lunch
This one is for the adults, because I'm sure your child doesn't want to see their dinner in their lunchbox.

Meal prep is a huge debate. You either love it or you hate it. I personally try to avoid meal prep, because I do not enjoy eating the same meal for the next 7 days and end up throwing a bunch of food away. But hey! You might enjoy it. This tip is for those who don't and need other ideas.

Instead, I prefer making bigger dinners. Healthy, but a few extra servings added to the cooking. That way, I'm not making meals for the whole week. I have to make dinner anyway, so why not throw in a few more cups of veggies and add in a few more chicken breasts to the mix.

That way I have enough left overs for lunch, but not enough that I will be eating left overs all week.
  • Hack #5: Prepare Healthy On The Go Snacks
Snacking can become a huge problem if you're not prepared. One minute you aren't hungry, think you're strong enough to go all day without a snack; Then a coworker pulls out a candy bar or a snack of their own. Then you get thinking that you might be hungry, but you're unprepared and end up eating half her candy bar which is easily at least 150 calories.

Make sure you have a little lunch bag for yourself with fresh snack ideas like cheese sticks and veggies. But also keep some mixed nuts in your desk drawer if you're able to. Make your own trail mix with a healthy mixture of nuts and a little bit of chocolate chips to curb your cravings. They sell a bunch of snack pack ideas now in the grocery store, but if you can make your own, that's even better.

School aged children seem to be always hungry. Depending on the school your kids may get a snack time. A lot of students struggle with finishing the lunch you pack as well. Timing is shortened these days. So our children end up going a long period of time hungry and unable to think. What can we do?

I always pack a snack in the backpack...just in case it is needed. Even if they can't have it in school, they can open it up on the bus or eat it in the car on the way home.

I try to have healthy snacks available in the fridge accessible to my kids that they can grab in case they are hungry, so I'm not having to get up every 2 minutes.
Unhealthy snacks, I still own...yes I allow my kids unhealthy things too, but I put those on top of my fridge, so they are less accessible and I can control their intake.

Kids have higher metabolisms and can get away with eating more "junk" food, but it's not a habit you want them to get used to.

I'll have fruit cups, fresh fruit in the drawer, cheese cubes in the lunch meat drawer, and a veggie tray that is easy to grab that they can get to if they are hungry.
Planning doesn't mean that you need to plan a week in advance. A day or hours in advance can work just as good. But planning of some sort is necessary in order to stay on track and to help make healthy decisions throughout the day.

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