Back-to-school nutrition tips

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The start of this school year is anything but normal, and with kids learning from home, past family meal plans have been sent back to the kitchen.

23ABC’s Kallyn Hobmann spoke with local health officials about some tips and tricks for getting your family’s diet on a healthy, consistent track.

With the school year beginning at home, it’s easy to assume your family can just walk to the kitchen whenever they’re hungry, but Dietician Nicole Giumarra said this can lead to bad habits that can lead to bad grades.

“Not having a plan, I think it’s really easy to slip into, you know, just reaching and grabbing for meals and snacks that might not be as nutrient dense, might not fuel the brain and the body as well for learning,” said Giumarra.

One way to avoid this is meal prepping. Pediatric Nurse Kristen Vanscharrel said this can ensure your family eats healthy foods while making things a little easier as you navigate a virtual school year.

“You may want to think about, this is going to be different, and is prepping on a Saturday night or Sunday going to ease it, ease your week as you’re trying to figure out this new schedule,” said Vanscharrel.

Vanscharrel recommended creating a snack bin with healthy options like apple slices or hummus so your child has the freedom to pick their own food while you’re reassured they’re fueling their bodies and minds. If you’ve got a stubborn or picky eater, Giumarra said including kids in the meal planning process makes them feel like they have a say in what they eat.

“Maybe not saying, hey what do you want for lunch today, but instead saying, we’re going to have a sandwich today. Would you like turkey or would you like peanut butter? So they’re getting that protein-rich food but you’re giving the choice to the child,” said Giumarra.

And Vanscharrel said it is okay to have those days where you really need a sweet treat.

“I’m never going to say don’t take your kid for ice cream after a rough week,” said Vanscharrel.

Just do so in moderation.

In the end, Giumarra said the best way to conquer virtual learning is keep school days as regular as possible.

“Just make sure that they are, you know, getting regular nourishing meals, getting a snack, taking a break from the screen so they can just kind of feel that sense of normalcy,” she said.

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