As summer is winding down and the anticipation of another school year is winding up, the Metro Jackson American Heart Association is encouraging all Rankin County parents to make their child’s health a priority. Based on the advice of Dr. Tiffany Kimbrough, pediatrician at Children's Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University, the following tips can help Rankin County children have a healthy school year.
1. Take a crash course in nutrition.
Balanced, healthy foods belong in the lunchbox. Good nutrition promotes learning and helps keep sugar crashes and growling bellies at bay. Choose foods that are high in protein such as low-fat string cheese, yogurt, turkey roll-ups or hard-boiled eggs.
Pair these choices with fresh fruits and vegetables, such as apples, grapes, bananas, mandarin oranges, sliced cucumber, strips of peppers, edamame and sugar snap peas. Avoid packing high-sugar beverages such as sports drinks, soda or sugary juice. Milk or water are the best choices. Some schools allow snacks, but steer clear of snack cakes, cookies and candies.
2. Make sleep a priority.
The school routine can be challenging for kids whose sleep schedule has matched the relaxed vibes of summer. An earlier bedtime can be a struggle, especially since it might still be bright outside at bedtime.
Start moving bedtime earlier three to four weeks before schools starts. Help kids wind down by stopping electronics (tablets, TV, phones) an hour before bedtime. And consider a ban on electronic use in the bedroom to give brains a chance to settle without the added distraction.
3. Keep tabs on medications.
Many kids don’t have their medications at school, putting them in potential danger. The school needs to have those lifesaving medications on hand to deal with issues such as asthma, food allergies or seizures. Give a spare set to the school, along with a permission form from a health care provider.
4. Check in with the family health care provider.
Make sure vaccines are up to date and annual physicals are scheduled.
For more information, healthy lunch ideas, and ways to move more, visit heart.org.