The School Years
As your child is growing, so is their schedule of things to do. This age group is more about planning than anything else. The pit falls in the diet at this age may be too many fast food stops, too many sweet drinks (sodas, sweet tea, Gatorade, Sobes), and too little time at home.
Try to balance the on-the-run meals with at-home meals around the table. Another pitfall at this age are the choices during school lunch time. Recent studies show an increase in obesity among students that eat from the cafeteria vs. the ones that bring their lunch. So if obesity is a concern you may consider packing your child's lunch.
- Always eat breakfast, even if it is on the go. Some go to breakfast options are cereal with skim or lowfat milk, cheese or peanut butter toast, fruit smoothie, or a bagel.
- Take advantage of after school snacks by providing something nutritious, such as veggies with dip, fruit, turkey sandwich, cheese and crackers, or yogurt. A school age child can eat as much as 1/3 of her daily caloric intake during their after school snack.
- Choose foods from the following food groups: grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, and protein. It's important they eat a wide variety of foods in order to get the most vitamins and nutrients possible.
- Limit distractions. Sit around the table as a family at mealtimes, as opposed to in front of the television.
- As the parent, set a good example. Your child is going to be watching your every move. How do you expect them to eat healthy food if you aren't doing the same?
- Make it a family event! Let your kids help with the meal planning and prep. They will be more likely to eat what you put in front of them if they had a hand in planning and/or making it.
- Control your child's portion size. Remember, they are not adults. Give them portions properly sized for their weight, age, and gender.
Exercise and Physical Activity
Exercise and physical activity is very important at this age. Most school-age kids need about an hour of moderate exercise per day. This can include fun activities such as playing on the playground, dancing with mom in the living room, and more. Regular exercise encourages good health and fitness and a healthy weight. Parents are also encouraged to limit their child's screen time to less than two hours per day.
Water is Important
School-age kids should drink around 6-8 cups of water per day. Water is essential for healthy growth and body function. If your child plays sports or is very physically active, they will need to drink even more water. They should also be sure to drink water before, during, and after physical activity, especially if it's hot outside.
This page was authored by Dr. Melissa Adams