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Plan ahead to keep healthy eating habits during back-to-school rush

To The Leader

It’s time to get back into the groove of school schedules, and planning ahead can benefit your family’s health and wellness. Mornings may become more hectic this season with getting breakfast on the table – or on the go – packing lunches, finishing homework and the never-ending rush to get to class or work.

Taylor Tran, registered dietitian and employee wellness coordinator at The University of Texas at Dallas, says organizing meals and snacks ahead of time can help ensure you and your family are eating a healthy diet. Here are a few of her tips for back-to-school eating habits:

  • Pack balanced lunches at night and store in a certain spot in the refrigerator so you can grab and go in the morning. Include a serving of protein, whole grain, fruit, vegetable and a fun snack like low-fat yogurt or dark chocolate nibs. If you pack lunch at night, you have more time to prepare and eat a healthy breakfast.
  • Shop for breakfast essentials like eggs, fruit, yogurt, low-fat milk, high-fiber cereal, whole-grain breads and protein bars for those busy mornings. For a quick and healthy breakfast, enjoy cereal (with less than 10 grams sugar/serving) with low-fat milk and berries and/or Greek yogurt. Make sure to balance the breakfast with a protein and carbohydrate for lasting fullness and energy.
  • Prep meals and chop veggies on the days when you are least busy. Having all the foods ready to go will make cooking a lot quicker. You are also more likely to choose fruits and veggies if they are ready to eat. Placing nutritious snacks in plain sight makes everyone more likely to pick them up.
  • Start a “snack station.” Clear a pantry shelf to store healthy snacks like protein bars, dried fruit, high-fiber cereal, applesauce and jerky. Create a “snack section” in the refrigerator where you can keep fruits and veggies with dips and yogurt and/or string cheese.

“Make lists, organize items and have a plan. Before you know it, you and your family will have a stress-free and nutritious eating routine,” Tran says.