||Lisa Hark, PhD, RD, Director
of the Nutrition Education Program at the University
of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, offers the ABC’s
of back-to-school nutrition for parents and children.
||ACTIVITY is essential
to staying healthy.
||BALANCE your meals
throughout the day.
||COOK and shop with
(PHILADELPHIA) – As a lazy summer filled with cookouts and
ice cream cones draws to a close, it’s a great time to focus
on incorporating a healthy lifestyle into the back-to-school routine.
“Learning to enjoy nutritious foods and be physically active
in fun ways are life lessons that parents can teach their children
to help them develop healthy habits they will carry through their
school years and on into adulthood,” says Lisa
Hark, PhD, RD, Director of the Nutrition
Education Program at the School of Medicine.
Dr. Hark, who also hosted TLC’s show “Honey, We’re
Killing the Kids,” offers the following ABC’s of back-to-school
nutrition for parents and children:
ACTIVITY is essential to staying healthy
- Limit TV and video game time to less than 2 hours a day. Studies
show that the more children are exposed to TV ads for junk food
and sweetened drinks, the more likely they are to consume large
amounts of unhealthy food.
- Work in at least one hour of activity every day. Children
spend most of the school day sitting, so get them outside for
some play time after school. To get moving, choose activities
like baseball, frisbee, jump rope, dancing, hula-hoop, and tag.
- Use weekends for active family bonding outings. Hiking,
biking, walking, and sports all count, so get out, get moving,
and have some fun!
BALANCE your meals throughout the day
- Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Some
healthy choices to start the day off on the right foot are low-sugar
cereal with 1% low-fat milk and fruit, or whole grain waffles
with low-sugar syrup and a small glass of orange juice, or one
slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and jelly and a
glass of 1% low-fat milk.
- Don’t rely on school lunch options. Pack a healthy
lunch at least 3 times a week. Healthy choices include
whole wheat bread or a small whole grain wrap with turkey, ham
or tuna salad, low-fat yogurt, fruit, and a water bottle.
- After school is a great time to get children to eat their vegetables
because they are so hungry. Try baby carrots, cut up
cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, or celery with low-fat ranch or
French dressing. You will be surprised at what they eat!
- Everyone is busy at the end of the day, but it is important
to plan ahead and prepare a healthy dinner at least 3 times a
week. Include fresh vegetables and salads, lean meats such as
poultry or seafood, and whole grains such as brown rice or whole
wheat pasta. Skip the soda and juice and serve either water
or 1% low-fat milk every night. A healthy meal and time
with the family is a great way to end the day, teach children
about socialization, and catch up on the day’s activities!
COOK and shop with your children
- Create a healthy shopping list with your children at home before
going to the market. Before you leave, help children understand
that, “If it’s not on the list, we’re not buying
it.” Remember that it is okay to take control and say no
to your children, especially when it comes to junk food and sweets.
You are the boss.
- Make shopping a fun and educational outing. Use the produce
section to teach young children about colors, shapes, and expand
their vocabulary of fruits and vegetables. They will be more
likely to try new fruits and vegetables when you get home.
- Get children involved in safely preparing healthy foods such
as vegetables for salads, scrambled eggs, turkey burgers, and
smoothies. Children will be excited to eat what they’ve
made and proud to share with others, as well!
“Children and teenagers are experiencing medical complications,
such as high
blood sugar levels, diabetes, and high
blood pressure at alarming rates due to sedentary lifestyles and consuming too
many calories,” says Hark. “By setting a good
example, providing healthy foods in as many settings as possible,
and being active with their children, parents can play a huge role
in improving their children’s health now and in the future.
Follow the ABC’s for a wonderful 2007-2008 school year.”
PENN Medicine is a $3.5 billion enterprise
dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical
research, and excellence in patient care. PENN Medicine consists
of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded
in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University
of Pennsylvania Health System.
Penn's School of Medicine is ranked #2 in the nation for receipt
of NIH research funds; and ranked #3 in the nation in U.S. News
& World Report's most recent ranking of top research-oriented
medical schools. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students,
the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior
education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists
and leaders of academic medicine.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System includes three hospitals,
all of which have received numerous national patient-care honors [Hospital
of the University of Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's
first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center]; a faculty practice
plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty satellite
facilities; and home care and hospice.