Food & drink

Nutrition: Tips to get ready for the back to school routine

A healthy breakfast should be an essential part of the back-to-school routine.
Jane McClenaghan

SCHOOLS are back next week and it is the perfect opportunity for all the family to get into a better routine, create some healthy new habits and make simple changes to add a little extra nutrition into your day.

From tots to teens, this is a good chance to make some changes to help optimise your child's nutrition to help support their mental, physical and emotional health for the next school term.

Academically, it is well established that good nutrition makes all the difference to learning, attention and concentration.

A GOOD START TO YOUR DAY

We also know that children who eat breakfast tend to have a better micronutrient intake and lower rates of obesity. A nourishing breakfast can also help to sustain energy levels and improve cognitive function, so it is worth getting into the habit of breakfast.

Keep things simple and give your children a couple of options for healthy breakfasts first thing. Include:

:: A slow release carbohydrate - wholegrain cereal, wholemeal toast or bagel or porridge are good options here.

:: One of their five a day - berries (fresh or frozen), melon, banana, tomatoes.

:: A protein source - eggs, nuts and seeds, yoghurt, milk or cheese are easy options at breakfast time.

Some ideas for breakfast:

:: Eggs on wholemeal toast

:: Porridge with fruit

:: Wholemeal toast with peanut butter and banana

:: Low sugar cereals like Weetabix or a low sugar granola - with some milk and fruit

Here are a few ideas to help you get the school year off to a good start:

1. Go to bed 10 minutes earlier so you can wake a little earlier and have time for a decent breakfast.

2. Set the table and set out what you need for breakfast before you go to bed to make things a little easier and quicker in the morning.

3. Sit down and eat together at breakfast time when possible.

4. Get back into batch cooking. It's time to rediscover your family favourites that everyone enjoys and will help keep midweek meals simple.

Spaghetti bolognese, chilli, curry and stew are perfect one-pot-wonders that will do a couple of weekday meals.

5. Pack in an extra portion of vegetables into your one-pot wonders. For speed and ease, add some frozen vegetables like mixed peppers or spinach or add some grated carrot and an extra onion to increase your veg intake for the day.

6. Swap to wholemeal pasta with your bolognese and pasta bake. Your kids are unlikely to notice the difference, especially if it is coated in tasty bolognese or yummy pesto sauce.

7. Save yourself time and effort by prepping the ingredients for packed lunches and storing in containers in the fridge.

Chop carrots, peppers and cucumber into sticks to pop into a lunchbox, mix up some tuna and sweetcorn with mayo to do a couple of days sandwich filler, or chop up enough fruit salad to do today and tomorrow.

8. Pop some healthier snack options into your trolley. Yoghurt, fresh or frozen fruit, nut butter, cheese, oatcakes and a pot of houmous can create a good combination of snacks for the midweek munchies.

9. Know your danger zones. If you nibble on junk food when the kids go to bed, then make the choice to have something healthier, or commit to shutting the kitchen after dinner and have a glass of water or herbal tea instead.

The chances are you will sleep better and feel more refreshed in the morning - especially if you are stopping the high sugar, refined junk food TV snacks.

10. Stop scrolling and go to bed early enough that you can get a decent eight hours' sleep.

Have a good weekend and make the most of the last few lie-ins before the kids head back to school...

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