Back to School: Children’s Health

Did you know... fall is an ideal time to create healthy routines? These include nutrition, physical activity and good sleep hygiene. The Pharmacist at Walmart can offer advice for a healthy school year.

Fuel your child’s brain with healthy choices

Choosing healthy foods for each meal, including school lunches and snacks, is important to help your children to concentrate and absorb and retain information. Healthy food helps learners achieve success. For more information, visit Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide at: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/index-eng.php.
 
Start the day with a nutritious breakfast. Breakfast provides you and your children with energy and nutrients for healthy growth and active minds. Mornings are a busy time in most households so planning ahead will make breakfast time a little less hectic.
 

Breakfast tips

1. Before your children go to bed, have them put cereal boxes, bowls, juice/milk glasses and spoons, forks and knives on the table.
2. Have a bowl of fresh fruit ready in the fridge for easy access.
3. Be sure that milk and fruit juices are easy to reach. Juice boxes give everyone a chance to choose their personal favourites.
4. Have a variety of whole grain bread choices on hand e.g., whole grain bagels (already sliced and ready for toasting), sliced bread, pita, etc.
5. Have a variety of low-fat cheeses and naturally sweetened yogurts and fruit spreads within easy reach.

 
 

Pack a healthy punch

To help ensure that your child actually eats the lunch you send to school, remember to consider her/his favourite choices when packing the lunch and get your child involved in the preparation. Include healthy snacks to keep your child “energized” throughout the day. Variety in flavours, colours and textures is important to keep children interested in their lunches, so try not to pack the same things every day.
 
A balanced lunch includes:
• 1 to 2 servings of vegetables and fruit
• 1 serving of grain products
• 1/2 to 1 serving of milk and alternatives
• 1/2 serving of meat and alternatives

Lunch suggestions

  • Vegetables & Fruit: cut veggies (peppers, celery, carrots, zucchini), cherry or grape tomatoes, medium size apples, bananas, peaches or pears
  • Grain Products: whole grain breads/bagels/naan/wraps/pitas, pasta, rice, couscous, quinoa
  • Milk & Alternatives: low-fat dip for veggies, low-fat yogurt, low-fat cheese cubes/strings/slices
  • Meat & Alternatives: hard cooked eggs, tuna/salmon/chicken salad, hummus, almonds*, edamame (steamed soybeans), nut butters*
 
*Peanuts and other nuts and seeds may not be allowed at your child’s school.

Lunch safety tips

• Be sure to comply with your child’s school policy about foods containing nuts/peanuts/seeds
• Always wash your hands/have your child wash his/her hands before preparing foods and be sure you are using a clean surface
• Thoroughly wash all fresh fruits and vegetables
• Keep lunches cold (in the refrigerator before your child leaves for school and include an ice pack or frozen juice box)
• Wash reusable containers in warm soapy water
 

Active bodies, active minds

Along with healthy eating habits, it is important for children to develop healthy physical activity habits. Health Canada recommends that children and youth get at least 60 minutes of activity each day. Being physically active helps people to be more productive, have more energy and better concentration, have stronger bones and healthier muscles, and overall improved health. You may want to check out the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Get Active Tip Sheets at: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hp-ps/hl-mvs/pa-ap/04paap-eng.php.
 

Exercise: getting started

Being active starts with being a part of an activity (as a participant or a spectator). Consider the following:
1. Encourage your children to play outdoors rather than to sit in front of a TV or computer.
2. Plan family activities that include physical activities. Walk whenever possible, rather than riding in a car or on public transit.
3. If practical, walk or bike to school with your children.
4. Play catch with your children.
5. Encourage participation in team sports and in swimming, dance, martial arts, yoga and other activities.
6. Have your child rake the leaves and shovel the snow.

 
 

Exercise safety tips

1. Dress for the weather and for the activity.
2. Be sun safe, even in winter.
3. Wear safety equipment e.g., helmets, padding (elbow, knee, shoulder, etc.) and goggles.

Sleep hygiene for focused minds

Your children should get 9-10 hours sleep per night so that they won’t be sleepy during class time.
Here are some tips:
1. Have a regular bedtime and wake time.
2. Have a regular 30-45 minute bedtime routine, e.g., bath/shower, teeth brushing, reading.
3. Make after-dinner time a relaxing time.
4. Avoid giving your child caffeinated products.
5. Keep your child’s bedroom temperature comfortable and the room dark. A small dim nightlight may be used.
6. Try to keep your house quiet.
7. If your child is having difficulty sleeping, keep a sleep diary and review after one week.

Important information

The Pharmacist at Walmart is knowledgeable about healthy lifestyle including nutrition, physical activity and sleep hygiene and can help you make good lifestyle choices for your family for back to school.
Just ask.

This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances. If you have questions about your symptoms, ask the Pharmacist at Walmart for more information, and/or contact your doctor.

Legal
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.

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