Nutrition: The Most Important Factor For A Successful School Year

African American father and son eating breakfastIn many of our inner-city neighborhoods, parents are raising future Kings and Queens in a desolate wasteland! Where genetics and insufficient physical activity were once the major cause of childhood obesity, this has been replaced with children living in food deserts that pose a serious health threat.

Getting to a grocery store nearby is often a challenge for many due to a lack of resources. Consequently, our children have a greater chance of getting high blood pressure, diabetes and a myriad of other health aliments due to being overweight.

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September kicked off National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month! Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. A recent report by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) proclaimed America’s obesity epidemic has hit a new high, reporting that 17 percent of American children are continuing to put on weight.

I can truly relate to this growing epidemic, as a young lady who was once an obese child. I know what it feels like to be bullied by your peers and to not have a boyfriend because of how you look! I can vividly recall going to fabric stores with my mother to pick out various fabrics so my seamstress could make slacks with elasticized waistlines and feeling uncomfortable taking off my clothes for swim class. For those very reasons, I had doctors’ notices written all throughout high school to excuse me from P.E. demands.

With parents being in full gear getting their children ready for a new school year, many overlook the most important factor for a successful year: NUTRITION!  

So where do we start?

It starts at home with the parents. As parents, you play a vital role in your children’s lives! As role models in your children’s lives, creating an environment where making healthy food choices and being active should be rewarded by positivity to show the value and importance of these choices.

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Below are 3 “wynning” realistic tips for you to implement into your homes:

1. What’s in your child’s lunchbox? Educate your child about making healthy food choices. How? Involve them in the planning and preparing for their lunches. Make them your sous chef for the week by having them wash off the fruit or cutting up the vegetables, depending on their age.

Eat more salmon. Instead of tuna sandwiches, make salmon salad for sandwiches, it has a greater amount of Omega 3’s. Canned salmon works mixed with reduced-fat mayo or non-fat plain yogurt, raisins, chopped celery, and carrots (plus a little Dijon mustard if your child likes the taste). Serve on whole-grain bread — which is also a brain food.

Soup idea: Add canned salmon to creamy broccoli soup — plus frozen chopped broccoli for extra nutrition and soft texture. Boxed soups make this an easy meal, and are generally low in fat and calories, Giancoli says. Look for organic boxed soups in the health food section.

Make salmon patties — using 14 oz. canned salmon, 1 lb. frozen chopped spinach (thawed and drained), 1/2 onion (finely chopped), 2 garlic cloves (pressed), 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper to taste. Combine ingredients. Mix well. Form into small balls. Heat olive oil in pan, flatten spinach balls with spatula. Cook over medium heat. Serve over brown rice (instant or frozen).