Experts share advice for keeping students healthy this school year

FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) –

Buying school supplies, new clothes, and adjusting to a new schedule are all important considerations for parents when sending kids back to school. However, health experts say your child’s nutrition is also something to consider.

”I know for myself if I’m hungry I am not going to concentrate on anything but trying to find something to eat,” explains Shannon Nowak the Director of Nutrition Services for Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton schools.

“They need to perform academically, but also so they have the ability to make it through the day and can stay on task at school as well,” says the Senior Dietition at Sanford Health, Casey Bjoralt.

She adds, “They’re growing constantly, right? It’s always new cell development, new growth and so they need to be fueling their body properly to do that.”

Experts agree that children need to eat a variety of nutrients in order to grow properly and thrive in their classes, though that can be easier said than done.

Nowak says, “With picky eaters or with school lunch all together, I think choices are the number one thing we can do to support our students.”

They also suggest having snacks for your kids to eat thoughout their busy day.

“A really good thing would be just to have a snack drawer at home, right? That they could grab something from and take with them,” says Bjoralt.

Some suggestions include trail mix, granola bars and bananas.

“People eat with their eyes, their nose, and then their mouth, so if we can make it visually appealing to them, that’s what’s going to grab their attention first,” says Nowak.

Nowak also says, if you’re a parent who is concerned with the food being served at your child’s school, “Be an advocate and just call the director or the kitchen manager.”

The CDC says nearly 1 in 5 children are obese, putting them at risk for a number of other health concerns. They also recommend packing healthy snacks like fresh fruit, vegetables, grains and dairy for your kids to have during the school day.