For many people, with summer ending and the school year starting, we need to switch gears to add more structure back into our lives. It can be hard to make the transition, but if you’ve been following our suggestions, we have suggestions for easing the process. To help you and your kids make school days the best they can be, here are five back-to-school Smart Nutrition tips:

  1. Plan your breakfasts. It can be struggle just to get going in the morning, and without the right breakfast, you are already starting the day with one foot in a hole. Plan (and in some cases, prepare) your breakfasts in advance, so you can simply assemble, heat, eat and go. The right breakfast will give you and your kids consistent energy and a clear head, so everyone can have the best day possible.
  2. Tune in to lunch choices. Be engaged with your kids about what they are eating for lunch. Get a copy of your kids’ school lunch menu (available on-line) and review it together. Decide which school lunch meals they want to eat and when they don’t want school lunch, be prepared to put together something at home that that will nourish them through the day. Don’t over-complicate things—you can prepare more food at dinner so it’s available to take for lunch.
  3. Don’t forget slow carbohydrates. Both children and adults need slow-digesting carbs throughout the day to help prevent a ride on the sugar roller coaster, which causes extremes in both energy and moods. Slow carbs are fiber dense foods, like vegetables, real fruits, and whole grains. Make these the norm, and you will have consistent energy all day long.
  4. After-school snacks are key. Plan the right kind of after-school snacks—with your children. Studies show that when kids are part of the planning process, they’re more likely to eat the foods available and make them a regular part of their diet. Be sure to practice portion control by using single serving containers and baggies for fruits and crackers, instead of the bag or box they came in. That way, they will be ready for a nourishing dinner when the time comes.
  5. Unsweetened beverages. There’s so much sugar everywhere, and sugar-sweetened beverages (juice, soda, chocolate milk) are big offenders. Focus on eliminating this source of excess sugar. Have kids pick out a fun-looking beverage bottle and coach them to practice drinking enough fluids during the day. It can be a fun daily challenge to see if they can achieve their hydration goals.
  6. A bonus sixth tip – Get enough sleep! Sleep is key in keeping your immune system strong and your mind clear. And, being sleep-deprived makes you feel low-energy so you crave more of the fast carbohydrates that put you on a sugar roller coaster. Stop the cycle by helping ensure you and your children get enough sleep—it’s one of the most underrated things we can do to have a better day and a better quality of life.

As we start this fall season, work on making these tips a regular part of your life so you can get the most out of your days. Take these baby steps and you will love the way you feel!