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Back To School: Nutrition

Let's face facts: It's not easy to convince kids that carrot sticks and dried tofu taste as good as chips and ice cream. Maybe they don't -- to palates used to refined sugars and fats. The trick to improving your child's diet is moderation.

BREAKFAST

Breakfast is easily one of the lower-fat, fiber-and-nutrient-packed opportunities of a kid's day. It's been shown to boost energy, school performance and maybe even weight control. But given the hectic nature of weekday mornings, it'd better be easy. And it is:

  • High-fiber cereal with milk graduates to a super start when they throw on some berries. Add a glass of calcium-enriched orange juice, and that's two bone-building servings before they leave the house.

  • Whip up a pitcher of fruit-and-yogurt shakes, or leave the blender out for older kids.

  • Melt a low-fat cheese slice on toast, or between two multigrain waffles.

  • Have yogurt, crunchy granola and raisins ready for breakfast "sundaes."

  • Scrambled egg and cheese tacos, pizza bagels, even a veggie or turkey burger popped in the microwave oven with a slice of low-fat cheese, can wake up sleepy taste buds.

  • Late For School? Give them a sport bottle filled with OJ or a yogurt smoothie with a muffin to eat on the way. Even faster: a cheese stick and fruit.

SAY NO TO FIZZY DRINKS

For school-age children, aim for the recommended three-glasses-a-day milk target, and then add another three rounds of water. Juice can quench any thirst that's left. No need to ban carbonation either. Keep your children cheering with these tips:

  • Install a water cooler in the kitchen.

  • Keep sports bottles filled with water and at the ready.

  • Phase out supersweet, high-calorie drinks by substituting 100% juice. Then dilute fruit juices with plain or sparkling water.

  • Buy bottled waters with fruit essences (not the sugared type) instead of soft drinks.

  • Encourage mixology: Sparkling water can fizz up any drink you'd normally give your kids.

  • Stock the fridge with fruits like grapes and melons, which pack lots of water.

  • Send the kids to school with juice instead of soda.


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