After a good break, there is much excitement about the first day back at school with big smiles and
shiny new uniforms. Back to school also means back to routine which is actually very conducive to
The school day is perfectly timed for regular meals, without grazing, and the inclusion of physical
activity. Waking up at the same time and going to bed at the same time everyday also aids good
sleep which is very important for growing bodies and minds.
The beginning of 2020 marks the perfect time to assess your family’s daily routine and how it
supports or disrupts opportunities to practice healthy eating habits.
3 important routines to slot into the school goers schedule
1. A family breakfast
This might seem completely impractical as you reflect on the morning chaos that usually precedes a
school / work day but adopting this habit can be the perfect way to calm the chaos before the school
run. This family breakfast need not be gourmet, it simply needs to offer nutrient benefit and energy
for the first two lessons of learning and concentrating.
Some breakfast items and utensils can be set on the table as the dinner dishes are cleared, ready
and waiting for the family to sit down at a designated time the following morning. 15 - 20 minutes
before usual departure would probably work best. This might require getting everyone up 5 - 10
minutes earlier initially but once the routine is created and the habit set, you will find this a valuable,
family time, to start the day well.
Family breakfast options:
Fibre rich cereals
Oats or maltabella porridge
Scrambled egg on toast with avocado or tomato
Boiled eggs and fruit
Fruit and yoghurt
2. Send water and fruit to school
Dehydration leads to fatigue, headaches, unnecessary hunger and low blood pressure and should be
prevented before it happens. A water bottle or two is a must for children during the school day,
especially if they stay for extra mural activities. Water can be frozen to keep it cool. Diluted fruit
juice (1 part fruit juice: 3 parts water) can be sent in addition to water on very hot days.
Fresh fruit also contains water and children should be encouraged to eat at least one fruit per school
3. Encourage physical activity
Some kids probably do too many after school activities, making the schedules rather hectic but many
children do no form of physical activity after school. Children should be doing at least 60 minutes of
physical activity per day. If this cannot be done as part of a formalised activity at school, it should be
encouraged at home. Outside play, dancing on rainy days, helping with a few chores, all count
towards physical activity. Screen time should be monitored and limited. Parents should be active
with their children. This could be as simple as playing with the dog or throwing a ball but more
movement is key to maintaining health and preventing obesity and its related diseases.
Physical activity is also essential for the development of lean muscle mass and the improvement of
bone density. Lean muscle improves co-ordination, balance, strength and endurance. Muscle mass
and bone mass begin decreasing as early as 30 years of age. Reaching adulthood with strong, lean
muscles is recommended for quality of life in the elderly years. The elderly lose their independence
and quality of life because of reduced muscle mass and bone density. This can be prevented.
It is never too early to promote health in young children.