Back To School Nutrition Breaks

By Stephenie Cox –

Back to School is upon us and with that comes the stress of the demands to excel at everything from academics, sports, dance, music, social time, etc. In an effort to offset that a bit, I have stepped back from the rat race. I still expect my kids to offer their best in all they do, but it does not need to be at a high-paced, stressful speed. Paring down and prioritizing a few things such as family time and health and wellness is part of that. It is impossible to meet the demands of the day without preparing ourselves with nutrition geared towards fueling our bodies and exercise.

I grew up in a family that ate better than most because my mom was a vegetarian, but we still had lots of dairy, cakes and cookies around. We all ate the same thing without listening to our bodies’ needs. I remember no matter what class I had after lunch during school, I was checked out and half asleep at my desk. Today, I understand that as a blood sugar crash. I am careful to watch my intake of foods and sugar content that will spike and drop my blood sugar levels. I more focused on eating a diet that allows for sustained energy throughout the day.

Each of us has a different make up with foods we should and should not eat for our maximum potential. If we really tuned in, we would hear and feel what our bodies are saying about what we are eating. As a parent, I feel I can offer my kids a better nutrition by teaching them to listen to their bodies’ needs. For example, asking them, “How do you really feel after drinking that chocolate shake?”


So what snacks should we send in our kids’ backpacks if we are cutting out the high sugar fruit gummies or snack bars? Changing the mind set from “snack time” to “nutrition break” is a game changer. What helps sustain energy and focus throughout the day?  Here are a few foods I plan to incorporate into our daily plan:

200-fruitFRESH FRUIT

Fresh fruit is always a good choice to satisfy a sweet tooth. There are all sorts of neat containers that fruit can be carried in, and fruit packs a nutritious punch. You could pack a different fruit each day to avoid snack boredom. A word on dried fruits: they are more concentrated in sugar than whole fruit. They have more fiber and nutrients than sweeteners. Be careful when purchasing dried fruits to see that they do not contain added sugar.

STRING CHEESE

Not just for kids’ lunch boxes, string cheese and other portioned cheeses such as The Laughing Cow Wedges or Mini Babybels are the perfect complements to an apple, pear or bunch of grapes. These low-calorie protein packs are satisfying enough to carry you through to your next meal.

200-nutbarPROTEIN BARS

They are the perfect filling, portable snack to save you from a desperate trip to the vending machine. Pick up bars that are about 200 calories or less each, such as Luna Protein bars, In Kind bars or Honey Stinger bars to stash in your bag. Try to choose bars with less than 10 grams of sugar, and check to make sure the protein content is higher than the sugar content.

200-eggNUT BUTTERS

Individually portioned packages of  peanut butters and almond butters such as Justin’s Nut Butters are easy to stash in your bag and come in tasty flavors like honey peanut and chocolate almond. Pair with a few whole grain pretzels or fruit, and you have a satisfying treat.

HARD BOILED EGGS

Eggs really are one of nature’s most perfect portable foods. Packed with protein and antioxidants, they satisfy your hunger and improve your health. Pre-boil eggs, and keep them in your fridge, or try Eggland’s Best Hard-Cooked Peeled eggs for a no muss, no fuss snack or meal.

200-jerkynutsJERKY

Jerky (beef, turkey, chicken, buffalo and salmon) makes a great snack because it’s low in fat, lean, savory and high in the chewiness factor. You can find a wide variety of flavors from teriyaki to barbecue.

RAW NUTS

Almonds, peanuts and cashews are a great nutrition break. They offer many health benefits. Try roasted soy nuts for a complete protein snack. For a little extra heat, try the wasabi-flavored ones.