Nutrition, meal and snack tips for students

Schedule, balanced plate and beverage choice equally important
Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 9:00 AM CDT
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KSNB - As students prepare to begin a new school year and return to a set schedule, meals and snacks will become even more important.

According to Cami Wells, an Extension Educator who is a nutrition, food and health educator and registered dietitian in Hall County, getting kids on a schedule of a meal in the morning for breakfast, a meal in the middle of the day and a dinner at a normal time can be crucial for their success and focus throughout the day.

Wells recommends waking kids up earlier in the day before school begins to start training their bodies to fall into the routine of waking up early and eating something beneficial.

On top of a schedule, having a balanced “My Plate” whether at home for virtual school or cafeteria lunches. Plates should consist of veggies, fruit, protein, dairy and grains with fruit and veggies making up 50 percent of the plate.

As for things to avoid: sugary, calorie-filled drinks.

“Sometimes I think, especially when you’re packing lunches, it may be those sugary drinks instead of having milk or water or even 100% fruit juice,” Wells said. “Really trying to make sure that we’re skipping over those, those are easy to load up on and fill kids up without giving them a whole lot of nutrients.”

Snacking throughout the day is also a habit that changes when school starts as kids are no longer sitting around with nothing to do. However, that doesn’t mean snacking isn’t important. Putting something quick and healthy in a kid’s backpack to help tide them over during the day and give them mental and physical energy can be crucial for focus.

“If it’s going to be in their bookbag all day, that it’s not something that’s going to spoil over time, so things like granola bars, a piece of fruit are easy things to pack and easy things to take along,” Wells said.

Another tip from Wells: plan meals ahead of time. If you think you’ll be tight on time or your kids are pickier eaters, find healthy options they like and know what you’ll make them or set out for them throughout the week so they have the option to pack their own meals and save time in the mornings.

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