Back to school is just around the corner! Whether you are sending your kids to the classroom or having them learn remotely, it's important to provide your child with nutritious food. A balanced diet full of vitamins and minerals will help promote healthy growth development in your child’s body and brain, keeping them focused and ready to learn. If you’re feeling stressed with back to school, and not sure what to buy, consider these nutrition-packed foods.
While high-sugar foods are usually the easiest to reach for, they’re not always the best choice when it comes to nutrition. Refined sugars send children on an energy roller coaster ride, making it difficult for them to concentrate. This means saying no to many of the ‘easy’ sacks we find in grocery isles.
Instead, search for low-sugar alternatives as well as natural sources of sugar. Low-sugar granola bars, or fruits like strawberries, watermelons, oranges and peaches are all great options.
Tip: Cut up strawberries make for a great low-sugar snack and are easy to pack in lunchable containers, or keep in the fridge for when your child gets hungry.
High-fibre foods help keep your child fuller for longer, and of course, support a healthy digestive tract! Foods like low-sugar oatmeal, bananas, apples and whole-grain bread are packed with fibre and great for breakfast. Alternatively, you can focus on a fibre-packed dinner with foods like sweet potato and carrots, which are easy to pop in the oven and roast.
Tip: Home-made banana cookies or oatmeal banana muffins make for a delicious snack. Prep them on the weekend, and then keep them on-hand during the week so that everyone in the family — whether at home or in the classroom — can enjoy them during breaktime.
High protein foods help give your child energy and promote healthy growth development. Food guide Canada suggests including high protein foods on ¼ of your plate.
Beans, nuts, seeds, eggs, chicken, cheese, tuna or seed butters are all high in protein and easy to prepare for lunches. If you’re planning to meal prep at the beginning of the week, consider making a fresh chickpea hummus or black bean dip - both are great with vegetables and are packed with protein. Alternatively you can make a chicken salad wrap or tuna wrap. Nuts are best reserves for those who will be learning at-home.
Tip: When shopping for these high-protein foods, be careful to avoid highly processed cheeses or chicken products like chicken nuggets or chicken fingers. All-natural, unprocessed foods are always the best choice.
On average, two kids in every classroom have an allergy; parents should try to make sure that their kids are sent to school with lunches and snacks that are allergen-friendly. Allergen-free foods are free of dairy, wheat, eggs, soy, shellfish, fish, tree nuts and peanuts. These classroom-safe foods can be found online or in the health section of most grocery stores. They are easy to identify as they are often marked with an allergen-free logo.
Some considerations are: fresh fruits and veggies, dried fruits, low-sugar jams, and nut-free spreads like a seed butter.
Tip: Consider swapping your everyday pantry items with allergen-free options. Nut-free spreads, trail mixes and granola bars can all be swapped for allergen-free alternatives that are safe for classrooms.
About the author: Julie Bednarski as Registered Dietician and the Founder & CCO (Chief Crunching Officer) at Healthy Crunch, a Canadian-based food company dedicated to creating healthy everyday foods. Her company, Healthy Crunch, has successfully launched Canada’s first allergen-free Trail Mix, Canada’s first keto-certified Chia Jam and a series of nut-free Seed Butters. In 2020, Healthy Crunch launched their School Approved® line, a series of nut-free and allergen-free products.
For a great selection of low-sugar and allergen-free foods for back to school, visit healthycrunch.com and use our exclusive code, TO4Kids for 15% off your purchase.