It's back to school time! This can be a big transition from the less structured days of summer, for both parents and children. Read on for my top tips on making the transition back to school smoother and more healthy!
1. Start the day right with a healthy breakfast
A healthy breakfast can result in more sustainable energy levels throughout the day, increased focus and better concentration, all of which increase your child's ability to do well in school. Additionally, a healthy breakfast can nurture a healthy immune system, resulting in fewer days missed due to illness. A healthy breakfast should contain protein (ex. eggs, meat, cottage cheese, hemp hearts, nuts), healthy fat (ex. avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, fish oil) and fiber (ex. ground flax seeds, vegetables). Some of my favorite options are:
- Vegetable omelette
- Chicken sausage, sweet potato and veggie hash
- Smoothie with kale, protein powder, frozen berries, nut butter and coconut milk
- Egg, banana and flax pancake topped with almond butter, yoghurt and apple sauce
2. Boost your child's immune system through diet
Firstly, it's important to avoid sugar as much as possible. Sugar not only increases systemic inflammation, but it also depresses the immune system. Therefore, limiting sugar in your child's diet is important in optimizing their ability to stay healthy during the school year. Many kids actually drink a lot of their sugar, so a good place to start thinking about sugar reduction is cutting out soda and fruit juices. Instead, opt for fresh fruits to fulfill sugar cravings, which are full of antioxidants and contain fiber to slow the effect that they have on blood sugar. Besides reducing sugar intake, encouraging kids to have at least 5 servings of vegetables a day will ensure that they get the vitamins and minerals they need to boost their immune system. Opting for vegetables of a variety of colors ensures consumption of a wide range of health boosting nutrients. Other immune enhancing foods include garlic, ginger and mushrooms.
3. Get outside and play
It is so important for kids to get outside and play. Exercise boosts the immune system and also floods the body with feel good endorphins. Activities that take place outside have the added benefit of allowing kids to get dirty. Kids that play in the dirt have lower incidences of allergies as adults. Exposure to microbes is necessary for normal immune development. As much fun as video games and snapchatting on Iphones may seem, it cannot replace going outside and playing in the dirt. It can even be a family activity! Creating a garden together can have health benefits for the whole family.
4. Prioritize sleep: establish a routine
Sleep is essential for repair, growth, healthy neurotransmitter levels and optimal immune functioning. Most school aged kids need 9-13 hours of sleep a night, depending on their age. If your little one has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep through the night, talk to your naturopathic doctor about things that can help. For kids that have a hard time winding down at the end of the night, a cup of chamomile tea after dinner can be quite calming.
5. Teach your kids about maintaining good hygiene at school
Kids don't stop to think to wash their hands and are forever toughing their mouths, eyes and noses. Remind your kids to always wash their hands with soap and warm water before eating, and touching their faces (or encourage them to try to touch their faces less). This can do wonders for halting the spread of illnesses, especially when there are colds going through classrooms. A little bit of hand washing can go a long way in protecting your kids from getting sick, as well as in stopping them from bringing their sickness home!
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