Healthy prep made easy!
Brenna Jacks, ND
Are you—and the kids—read for back-to-school routines? Being physically and mentally ready for all that a new school year brings is as important for parents as it is for kids—of all ages. Use this guide to help prepare!
The pencils are sharpened and the notebooks stacked neatly in backpacks. You’re ready for back-to-school time. But are you and your kids physically and mentally ready for all that a new school year brings? Use this as your guide to the healthiest back-to-school ever.
Staying hydrated helps us digest our food, carry nutrients throughout the body, remove waste, and maintain proper fluid and electrolyte levels. Infants’ bodies are 75 percent water, and water comprises 55 percent of body weight in the elderly. Wherever you are in your stage of life, being well hydrated is important. Remember to increase your water intake if you’re exercising.
Back-to-school often means a return to packing daily lunches. Planning meals and snacks for the week ahead can lead to healthier choices and less last-minute stress over what to eat.
Young children need about 7 cups (1.7 L) per day of water. Children over age 9 require almost 9 cups (2.1 L) daily.
Kids don’t always have the luxury of long lunch times, so packing food that’s quick and easy to eat is important at this age. Aside from the usual wrap or sandwich, try adding vegetables and hummus, cut-up fruit, cheese and crackers, or a homemade smoothie to their lunch kit. Mason jar salads have the advantage of being both a unique twist on same-old salad and a simple way to pack up some nutrition.
In this stage of life, your body needs about 11 1/2 cups (2.7 L) of water per day.
While some students continue to live at home during the post-secondary years, many young adults are living independently and making their own nutrition choices for the first time. Salad bars offer opportunities for healthy options; students can create a balance between leafy greens and vegetables with proteins such as hard-boiled eggs, nuts, seeds, and lentils. At sandwich counters, they can choose whole grain bread, lots of vegetables, lean meats, hummus, and very small amounts of cheese or spreads.
In this stage of life, your body needs 11 1/2 cups (2.7 L) of water per day.
For lunches, try incorporating more protein in your salads to balance blood sugar levels throughout the day. Good examples include quinoa, chickpeas, beans and lentils, tofu, salmon, or chicken.
Stress affects each of us differently at various stages of life. The key is to figure out what triggers stress in you, how to recognize when you are stressed, how much stress your body can handle, and what stress management tools work best for you.
Children can become overwhelmed with stress relating to school, social pressure, and extracurricular activities. Parents can help kids manage their stress by staying present and noticing when children’s behaviour is being affected by stress. Listen when they want to talk, and acknowledge that you’re willing to work with them to limit situations that increase their stress levels. Give your kids the benefit of stress management tools that have worked for you in the past.
There are physical, emotional, and behavioural signs that your stress levels are rising above a manageable level. These can include insomnia, changes in appetite, or headaches. Emotionally, you may notice depression, anxiety, and nervousness. Stress may also present as withdrawing from loved ones, more arguing with friends, and increased use of alcohol or drugs.
Both of these groups of adults are responsible for creating environments for children to learn, grow, and thrive. Stress not only comes from that job description, but it can also come from their personal lives and families. Creating a space that’s open to mindfulness can be a great help in achieving much-needed balance in life. Mindfulness begins with being completely present and without judgement; it can make someone less reactive to a stressful event and better able to regulate emotional reactions.
Find out more about how mindfulness is being incorporated into kids’ lives—along with their parents and teachers—through the education system: “A Mindful Village”.
Supplements are an important part of health and well-being every day of the year, but routines often change in the summer. It’s important to get back on track with vitamins as school resumes.
Vitamin D should be supplemented at a minimum of 600 IU per day. Food sources include cooked salmon, canned tuna, and eggs.
At this age, students’ dietary choices may be less than ideal. For this reason, it’s recommended to include a daily multivitamin and at least 600 IU of vitamin D per day.
Try to include vitamin B6 along with your multivitamin and 600 IU of vitamin D. Vitamin B6 helps lower homocysteine levels, which is important for a healthy heart. Vitamin B6 also affects the immune system and cognitive function. The bonus? Vitamin B6 can have a positive effect on neurotransmitters, which means better sleep, appetite, and moods.
Week 3 — Focus on health maintenance and prevention
Continue with healthy lunches and snacks for overall energy and brain function. You’ll also want to be vigilant about head lice—a common concern at school. Some strategies to minimize kids’ risk include discouraging head-to-head contact during play and reminding them not to share hats, scarves, or other personal items with their friends.
Post-secondary students may be on their own for the first time when they experience a cold or flu. The best advice for them is to drink plenty of fluids, including warm lemon water with honey; get plenty of rest; and use an air humidifier. They can also try a salt water gargle to treat a sore throat.
By now, routines are getting well established. One of those routines can prove important in preventing the spread of viruses to kids—both yours and others. Frequent hand washing and proper cleaning of surfaces are key in preventing the spread of viruses and bacteria. Avoiding touching your mouth and eyes as much as possible is also important; this is an easy entry point for viruses and bacteria into the body.