With school having just starting, life has undoubtedly become more frantic for many of you. Around this time every year I get asked the same questions: “What is the healthiest lunch to pack for my child?” “What snack-foods will make both my child and I happy?” “How can I make a ‘quick and healthy’ breakfast for myself, my child and/or the whole family?” Questions about your child’s nutrition are easy to answer, sound reasonable, and at the same time can be very difficult to implement. I will try to make this process as straightforward and simple as I can.
With proper nutrition your child a competitive edge, by providing the nutrient dense fuel that both the brain and body crave. Following the simple tips below, will help to ensure that your children will have a healthy advantage to tackle even the most challenging day at school, and the night of homework that follows.
5 Smart Nutrition Tips for Parents:
- Be a healthy meal role model. Parents who eat healthy meals and who eat together as a family are setting a good example for their children, without even trying. Suggestion: make the shake below for the whole family – share breakfast and better health together.
- Plan a grocery list with your children. Thinking about and talking over what belongs on the family grocery list is a fun way to make every voice count. It teaches both personal accountability and responsibility. It’s also an amazing time-saver once you get to the store.
- Shopping for food with your children reinforces a team approach to your family’s healthy lifestyle. It can also be a smart way to empower your children to make healthy food choices for the rest of their lives. Watch out, your child may even teach you a thing or two.
- Have some fun in the kitchen with your children. Simple and healthy home cooking creates a way for your children to gain important life skills and bond with other family members. It also helps them to gain self-confidence for everyday challenges.
- Strike an important balance. A healthy lifestyle includes many things such as healthy eating, fun, exercise, laughter, and personal safety. Make sure to incorporate each of these in your daily interactions with your children.
A Tasty and Healthy Breakfast:
Breakfast truly IS the most important meal of the day, especially for children. A healthy breakfast refuels your child’s brain and body from a long night of sleep. Your children are more likely to feel good, have tons of energy, and do better in school, homework, and life when a nutritious breakfast is part of their daily routine. Here are my basic recommendations for a great, energy-producing meal. A perfect meal should made-up of these three components, called macro-nutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates). Include at least one from each category. A healthy ratio would be 90% vegetation; fruits; nuts; seeds; complex grains such as black rice or quinoa; and 10% grass-fed, pasture-raised or wild caught, animal protein. If vegan, substitute your preferred protein option and make sure to have your total protein, albumin, serum iron, hemoglobin and B12 blood levels checked, at least two times a year.
- A high-quality protein such as pastured, free-range eggs; grass-fed, organic meat; spirulina powder; or a vegetarian protein such as walnuts, hemp seeds or vegan protein powder.
- A high-quality carbohydrate such as fruit, especially banana, berries, mango, and papaya; spinach, kale or other green leafy vegetable.
- A high-quality fat such as (avocado; organic flax seed oil; organic, coconut oil and/or krill oil. For children I like adding extra DHA).
Note: For added effectiveness, consider tailoring meals to fit your child’s blood type. I can help with this if you need to find out your child’s blood type.
Cereal, milk, orange juice, toast, pancakes, Pop-Tarts®, and so on may taste great. It may even be what you had for breakfast, as a child. Neither of those things changes the fact that they are not helping to support your children’s health, creativity or drive to be the best they can be. I wish I had the time to write a separate e-mail dispelling the so-called healthy myths of the foods I just mentioned, especially milk. I can say that the only people who want you to eat or drink these foods are the people that make them and sell them. These foods should not be part of your or your children’s breakfast. This is my personal and professional opinion as both a functional medicine practitioner and father.
Your children’s future depends on many things, with one of the biggest being how well they perform in school. How they start their day, meaning what nutrition they put into their body in the morning, called breakfast, will determine their production level throughout the entire day. It is that important. Here is an analogy: If you owned a priceless Ferrari would you fill it with 87 octane, regular gas? I doubt you would even consider it. Each child is like a 1962 Ferrari 400 Superamerica Cabriolet Pininfarina SWB – PRICELESS. Your children are not a 73′ Ford Pinto hatchback, right? Your children as well as you and I, require and deserve the best fuel possible. Our health and future depend on it!
Healthy Breakfast Shake:
- 2 Tbsp of organic collagen protein powder (a vegetarian protein powder will also work – not casein, egg white or whey). Collagen is the most hypoallergenic.
- 1 hand-full of organic goji Berries
- 1 organic banana
- 3-4 organic, frozen strawberries
- 1 tbsp organic, raw, cacao powder
- ¼ cup organic, raw walnuts
- 2 tsp molecularly distilled fish oil (source of EPA/DHA – lemon flavor)
- 8oz. water (I personally use 12oz of whatever fresh vegetable juice my wife made that morning)
- A pinch or Seasons 90 Baja Gold Sea Salt and a touch of vanilla extract
- Blend in a blender
Healthy Snack Choices:
- A hand full of organic goji berries
- Frozen banana slices or frozen grapes
- My favorite trail mix (the amounts of each are up to one’s individual taste or preference) organic, goji berries; organic, raw walnuts; cacao nibs; minced organic dates
- Sliced veggies
- Raw nuts
- Fresh fruit
Lunch Box Nutrition:
Whether you’re packing your own or one for each kid in the house, there are real challenges when thinking about this mid-day meal. I know you want healthy options for lunch that combine both nutrition and flavor satisfaction. There’s also a real need for make-ahead recipes. Why would those pre-packaged lunch packs and frozen meals be so popular if ease of prep wasn’t the primary goal? Most importantly, how can you keep lunch tasting good day after day? And as any parent knows, if it doesn’t taste good, lunch table swaps are inevitable.
Here is an example of a healthy lunch that can be packed in your child’s lunch box.
Curry Chicken Salad with Apples, Walnuts, and Goji Berries (super yummy)
- 1/4 cup Soy-Free Vegenaise® instead of regular Mayonnaise
- 1 tsp curry powder (My daughter likes a shake of cayenne powder for an extra kick)
- 2 tsp spring or distilled water
- 1 cup chopped skinless, organic, boneless chicken (about 4 oz. Season chicken with lemon and herbs of your choice. We use lemon, fresh garlic, salt, and pepper. Grill or bake)
- 3/4 cup chopped, organic, apple (about 1 small – I use Granny Smith)
- 1/3 cup diced celery (when it comes to celery, only use Organic)
- 3 tbsp organic, dried, goji berries
- 1/4 raw, organic walnuts
- 1/8 tsp sea salt (or to taste) – I use Seasons 90 Baja Gold Sea Salt
Combine Vegenaise, curry powder, and water in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Add the grilled chicken, chopped apple, celery, goji berries, cashews and salt; stir mixture well to combine. Cover and chill.