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Back to School – It’s Kids Eat Right Month

back to schoolSubmitted by Marilyn Gordon, Ed.D., RDN, CSSD, LDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics

This time of year brings to a close the freedom of the summer months. By now, your family has prepared for a return to school; it could be the first day of kindergarten or the first day of freshman college studies. Both are exciting and milestones in life. August is celebrated as Kids Eat Right MonthTM by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The Academy reminds us to: Shop Smart, Cook Healthy, and Eat Right.

Smart shopping requires a plan and a grocery list. You cannot eat healthy food if it is not readily available. This is the perfect time to sit down together, plan meals, create a grocery list, and review the online school lunch or the college menu. School and college campus meals have improved, offering more vegetable options and fresh fruit. For the college student, the healthier options may be available but they also have to choose them. Whatever the age of the student, eating in a healthy way will create the optimal environment for learning. Food not only fuels the muscles for activity but also the brain for optimal cognitive function.

Cooking in a healthful way includes baking, broiling, steaming, light sautéing, and grilling. One of the simplest dinners is steamed vegetables with grilled fish, chicken, or tofu. Share the responsibility of food preparation among family members or dorm mates. Begin involving children in the kitchen at an early age so later they feel confident in the kitchen. Some college dorms may not have a full kitchen so students need to be creative with the microwave and allowed appliances.

Eating right is enjoyable. It is sharing a meal or snack in a relaxed atmosphere. Sitting down to eat and refueling for the next activity. Children should sit down to eat meals and snacks with other children or family members. College students should venture out of their dorms to food courts and other areas to socialize around meals. Food and meals should be healthy and fun. For more information about the Kids Eat Right MonthTM initiative, visit www.KidsEatRight.org