With school due to resume in a week, parents are best advised to get their children back to healthy routines even before they prepare their schoolbags.
Dr. Olga Raz, chief clinical dietitian of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, notes that breakfast is important for children, as it improves their concentration, which improves behavior and increases the ability to pay attention in class.
But, says Raz, if the child insists that he won’t eat a breakfast of whole-grained cereal, white cheese, egg or vegetables before leaving in the morning, you can give him a drink of milk – including with cocoa – and then have him eat a sandwich at 10 a.m. There is no benefit to arguing and forcing him to eat a traditional meal, she adds. If he does eat cereal, avoid sweet brands of simple carbohydrates.
Children should be taught from a young age to prefer whole-grain bread to white bread. If they refuse whole-grain breads, at least compromise on ordinary standard bread, which although made from white flour has fiber added.
Spreads that are healthful include avocado, tehina, peanut butter and olives, white cheese (5 to 9 percent fat) or occasionally yellow cheese, which has a higher rate of fat.
Humous, sardines, hard-boiled eggs, omelets with vegetables, cooked or fried eggplant, tomatoes and egg salad are good between pieces of bread. Pickles of various types are also good. If children prefer meat sandwiches, make sure these do not spoil in the heat; and avoid mayonnaise if the sandwich cannot be kept at a safe temperature.
The Health Ministry recommends that children at school eat something nutritious every three or four hours to provide a feeling of satiety. Food is best kept in a solid container to preserve proper temperatures.
It is best not to wrap it in plastic bags, as this promotes the growth of bacteria. The ministry advises parents not to spoil children with chocolate spread.
Add sticks of vegetables or fruit along with the sandwich. Cold water is preferable to bringing along or buying sweetened drinks.
Encourage children to get outdoor exercise when they come home and not to spend all their free time at the computer or in front of the TV, the ministry says.
Show children how to reach school and return home safely on foot or by public transportation, and to take a walk when they have free time.