A healthy start starts here.

Healthy Eating Habits Help Kids at School

School is just around the corner! Help get your children off to a great start by using good eating habits. With a healthy diet that includes a balance of vegetables and fruits, your children will be on their way to a successful year.

Healthy eating habits, like eating a good breakfast every morning, will provide energy and help kids concentrate. They will also help prevent illness and promote good attendance. Healthy eating, along with exercise every day, will boost kids’ overall fitness. They will have more energy and feel better about themselves.

Check out healthy eating tips from Healthier Tennessee’s Small Starts for Families. They will help you plan healthy meals and snacks for your child:

  • Make a meal plan. Write down what your family will eat for dinner every night of the week. Then go grocery shopping ahead of time. This helps stop last-minute dinner panic, which can lead to unhealthy decisions when you're hungry and in a hurry.
  • Water power. Make water your family's drink of choice. Add a splash of lemon, lime, orange or other fruit juice for healthy flavor.
  • Balancing act. Divide your plate between colorful vegetables, fruits, beans and sweet potatoes. Offer smaller portions of meat. The website choosemyplate.gov offers helpful information about the right portions.
  • OK to go slow. Teach kids to take time between bites and slow down as they chew and swallow. This simple step can help them to not eat too much.
  • Say yes to breakfast. Breakfast gives children the energy and nutrients to concentrate in the classroom. It also prevents the mid-morning slump. Plan tomorrow’s breakfast tonight. Three easy, healthy ideas: 1) Greek yogurt plus berries; 2) whole wheat toast plus peanut butter and sliced banana; and 3) oatmeal with cinnamon plus honey or dried fruit. Get more great breakfast ideas by clicking on the “A healthy breakfast to start the day” link at Small Starts for Families.
  • Leave sugary snacks behind. Consider packing some cut-up vegetables or fruit for your child to munch on before lunch. A fresh apple, banana or snack-size bag of baby carrots, grapes or berries are all great on-the-go choices. Good after-school options include low-fat string cheese and low-sugar yogurt. These healthy foods will keep your student full and focused. Get more helpful information by clicking on the “Top 10 reasons to eat more fruits & vegetables” list at Small Starts for Families.
  • Pack a healthy lunch. Consider these three simple, healthy meal ideas for your child’s lunch: 1) Peanut butter on whole-grain bread cut into shapes. Include raw veggie strips and an apple. 2) String cheese with whole-grain crackers, natural almonds, raisins and a banana. 3) Whole-grain tortilla with hummus. Include carrot and celery sticks, a handful of pecans or walnuts, and grapes.
  • Whole lot of goodness. Try making recipes your family loves using whole-grain pasta, rice, bread or tortillas.
  • Family dinner. Aim for at least three sit-down, screen-free meals a week; these family meals can have a positive impact on children. Studies show eating dinner together improves children’s nutrition and reduces the risk of childhood obesity. It also provides a great opportunity to discuss the school day with your child. To make it easier, choose simple recipes with foods like pre-cut veggies or pre-made pizza dough. Make meals in advance or have the whole family help.
  • Try for five. Try to have your child eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Make the "Family Five" a game: See who eats their five servings first. Shop for crunchy vegetables like peppers, carrots, broccoli and cucumbers. Then cut them into bite-size pieces for school lunches or snacks at home.

For more tips about healthy eating, physical activity, good sleep habits and dental health, check out Healthier Tennessee’s Small Starts for Families tool. Sign up for an account and personalize your plan.

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Additional Resources

Use these tips to help your child be healthy and alert at school.

Parents have the most important influence on their children’s lives. That is especially true with learning good eating habits. Follow these healthy eating tips to help you and your child.

It’s important to provide a balanced diet that meets a child’s nutritional needs. Get more tips for a balanced, healthy diet.