Tag Archives: back to school

Guilt-Free Packaged Foods for School Lunches

Packing lunches, day after day, can quickly become tedious. After all, there are only so many different ways you can pack a sandwich and even if your child is devoted to the traditional PB&J, banana and milk combo like one of my children, you may decide that you want to switch things up a bit.

Maybe you need to pack lunches in a hurry. You need some packaged foods to toss in the lunch bag, and you want foods that are yummy AND good for your child. Look for foods that are low in sugar, all natural, with no high fructose corn syrup and no chemical additives. It’s a tall order, to be sure, but here are a few of our favorite lunch box choices that meet our tough criteria.

Whole Grain Goldfish – Every kid loves to snack, and these childhood favorites have worked hard to make themselves a healthier choice.  With 140 calories for about 55 goldfish – a perfect serving size to go with your child’s lunch – 5 grams of fat and 2 grams of fiber, these whole grain, tasty cheese crackers are both fun and a good dietary choice.


Yoga for the Classroom

As school districts continue to tighten their budget, certain classes become extinct to make way for a more fiscally efficient approach to education. If the days of playing kickball, bombardment and whiffle ball in PE classes are long gone, what is taking their place to fulfill the physical activity requirements of growing children?

In 2001, The Accelerated School in Los Angeles, California piloted a program called YogaEd, designed by Tara Guber, in an effort to bring yoga into the classroom. The objective of this strictly secular curriculum was to teach proper posture and body awareness, techniques for relaxation and stress management, and self esteem building through compassionate problem resolution. The program’s goals were to instill life long habits for healthy living, enhance physical, social, emotional and mental health, and strengthen academic performance.

In 2003 a study was conducted to determine the results of the program, and the findings were in full support of not only its continuation at the Accelerated School, but also in the advancement of sharing the curriculum with more than 150 other schools.


Sending Your Gluten Free Kid Back to School

Wendy Gregory Kaho blogs about the care and feeding of a gluten-free family at Celiacs in the House.

Just as I had to regroup and strategize to send my two gluten-free kids off to college, mothers of preschoolers and kindergartners have to sharpen communication skills and have a game plan for sending their little ones out without Mom looking for gluten hiding everywhere. Teaching kids when they are young to know the rules, know how to ask the right questions and how to find safe food will help them avoid gluten. I’ve gathered my tips and some great resources to help prepare your child and your school.

Communication is key to living gluten free. Discussing your child’s dietary needs with teachers, cafeteria staff, and administrators will become a way of life as your young child steps out into the world without you and into the care of others. Tip sheets for these discussions can be found on the NFCA web site listed below.

Find a support group where you and your child can participate in events with a group that understands your gluten-free lifestyle and experienced moms who can offer advice.


5 Ways Teachers Can Improve the Health of Their Classrooms

By Tanisha Williams

As children succumb to the obesity epidemic, schools are turning to all teachers— not just physical education teachers—to instruct and encourage students to develop healthier lifestyles.

Although obesity amongst children has become a national concern, more and more schools are being forced to scale back or cut physical education classes to focus on academia. According to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, currently 16% of our nation’s children are overweight; this is a result of poor nutritional habits and lack of physical activity.

Below are five activities that combine academics with health, fitness and a nutritious curriculum that you can begin using in the classroom. Say that five times fast!


Yoga for College Freshmen

Changes in lifestyle and the added pressures of academic expectations can wreak havoc on the health of new freshmen. It is no wonder this first trying year can cause one to pack on some extra pounds. Determination, organization and composure can combat the prevalent “freshman 15” and the following Sun Salutation (series of 15 poses) can instill just that.

By practicing these yoga poses one right after another while moving with the breath, you will burn calories, increase flexibility and double your stamina. Be prepared for the challenges that lie ahead in your first year of college. Start today.

Sun Salutation Series

1. Intention Setting

To begin, start by sitting or standing in a comfortable position and set your intention. This can be anything from getting an A+ on a test to making it to class on time. Setting an intention will help you realize your goals, and coupled with a yoga practice it will have a little bit more impact.


Beat the Heat with Seven Easy Back-to-School Dinners

While the weather is still hot and humid in most of the country, families are gearing up to head back to school and back to work after summer vacations. Even though schedules become more hectic during the school year, it’s important for families to continue to dine together.

Studies have proven that children who sit down to dinner with their families have better grades and stronger language skills than those from families that don’t have regular meals together. Opt for a hearty meal inspired by some of our favorite summer ingredients next time you decide to set the table for a family meal.


5 Healthy 5-Minute Snacks For Your Kids

By Jennifer Gregory

It’s a scene that plays out in many houses each afternoon: The kids come home from school and they are starving. Not just merely hungry, but absolutely famished and they want something to eat this very instant.

While it is tempting to reach for cookies, chips or ice cream to satisfy their munchies, with just five minutes of preparation you can give your kids a snack that you can feel good about serving.

Here are five quick and healthy ideas that you, and more importantly, your hungry kids, will love:


Bag School Lunches Blamed for Disease-Causing Bacteria

With healthier school lunch guidelines on the way, some parents might prefer to let their child buy lunch, especially with the recent findings that “sack” lunches can pose serious health threats for children.

According to ScienceNews.org, a recent study from the University of Texas, Austin found that bag lunches are likely to harbor bacteria that causes food borne illness. Researchers tested the temperature of 235 packed bag lunches with an electronic temperature gun to determine the safety of the food inside.

According to Science News, roughly 40 percent of lunches containing perishable foods arrived without ice packs and more than 90 percent of meals were packaged in thermally insulated plastic containers. Of the 618 perishable foods packed in lunch bags with a single ice pack, only 14 food items were deemed to be at an acceptable temperature, according to the report.


SchoolMenu.com is Serving School Lunch Support that Every District and Parent Needs

The father-son team of Frank and Craig Kohler at SchoolMenu.com is taking a stance against childhood obesity, making themselves an active player in doing something for children throughout the U.S. and giving parents the tools to in turn empower themselves.

The Kohlers created SchoolMenu.com almost by accident. Frank led the charge on turning the side of milk cartons in to an ad medium in schools 20 years ago, working with Warner Brothers to share kid-friendly messages like saving the environment. That led to learning about the multi-million dollar business that is school food service, and thus begun their school menu service 15 years ago. They had an audience of four million elementary school children who received their “Tooned-In” school menu each month, which in addition to the menu included nutritional games, puzzles, and advertisements from the entertainment industry (for instance Shrek or Harry Potter). Then to complement the printed menu, Craig Kohler tells us that they created the dot-com part of the business as an “ancillary site that was kid-focused with games and puzzles.”

It’s only recently that they stopped printing the menus and started publishing them exclusively online at SchoolMenu.com, a move Craig says was due to “a combination of the decline in print advertising and the increased cost of printing and shipping.” He also adds that the site moved away from being kid-centric and instead more focused on meeting the needs of moms.

Simply put, SchoolMenu.com is a free online resource for schools and parents to share and have as much information about the cafeteria menu as possible. Schools can publish their menus on SchoolMenu.com, and parents can view the menus and their related nutritional information, all at no cost. (more…)

MyPlate Goes Back to School

A teacher with three students eating fruitThe fall of 2011 will begin the first school year since MyPlate was introduced as the official replacement for MyPyramid. Much of the success of the new icon is in the hands of the educators who will use it in their classrooms. Many schools are preparing to incorporate MyPlate into their curricula for all age groups, and it is also already being used in nutrition education for adults and families.

“MyPyramid has gone through changes over its lifetime,” said Sharre Littrell. “I would say that this is the first one that I feel is really consumer-friendly, because we don’t eat in a pyramid. We eat on a plate.”

Littrell is a nutrition educator for UC Davis Cooperative Extension (UCCE), an organization that helps educate communities in California about healthy eating. Although the school year hasn’t started yet, Littrell has been using the MyPlate icon in family and adult educational sessions. In the fall, UCCE educators will visit about 55 low-income schools to teach both students and teachers about healthy foods and to distribute curricula for future use.

For Littrell and her colleague Josie Rucklose, incorporating MyPlate into an existing curricula wasn’t difficult because MyPyramid is based on the many of the same underlying principles. “We’re already talking about fruit and vegetable consumption, we’re already talking about whole grain consumption, but what we get to do now is incorporate that by showing them a plate,” said Littrell.