Back to School
Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Back to School

Kids everywhere are getting back into the routine of waking up earlier, riding the bus, playing sports after school, and of course doing their homework! How can you keep them healthy? Offer nutritious foods for breakfast, lunch, and after school snacks, followed by your healthy family dinner meal.


It is true—it is the most important meal of the day! Numerous research studies show that kids who eat a nutritious breakfast do better in school. They concentrate better, they have more energy, and they are less moody.

Simple breakfast ideas

  • Whole grain cereal with milk and fresh fruit
  • Oatmeal made with milk, topped with fresh berries or sliced banana
  • Whole grain toast with peanut butter and sliced banana
  • Whole grain English muffin egg sandwich
  • Whole grain frozen waffles with fresh berries on top
  • Light yogurt, low fat granola, and fresh fruit


If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, lunch isn’t far behind. Metabolism is peaked for the day at lunch, and your kids still have a lot of school time and after school sports and homework left later in the day. A healthy lunch is vital to sustained energy for the rest of the day.

Packable lunches

  • Sandwiches: Use whole grain tortillas, pitas, or flatbreads for a new twist on the old sandwich.
  • Sides: Instead of the usual bag of chips, give them soy crisps, baby carrots, cheese cubes, trail mix, bread sticks, yogurts, string cheese, or cottage cheese containers
  • Creativity: Get creative with different shapes of sandwiches, cheese cubes, and even vegetables and fruits.
  • Well rounded: Include at least three of the five food groups for a balanced, well-rounded lunch:
    • Fruit (fresh fruit already cut up for them, 100% juice boxes, dried fruit, canned fruit in it’s own juice)
    • Vegetables (tomato juice, cut up variety of veggies, spinach, tomato on sandwiches and wraps)
    • Dairy (yogurt, milk, pudding, cheese)
    • Whole grains (whole wheat tortillas, bread, cereal, crackers)
    • Protein (turkey, lean lunch meat, hummus, vegetarian alternatives like veggie burgers, nuts, peanut butter).


Most kids are starving by the time they get out of school. Be prepared with a healthy snack so they don’t hit the vending machine or fast food restaurant.

Smart snacks

  • Light yogurt
  • Half a sandwich
  • Fresh fruit
  • Fruit kabobs (put fresh fruit on sticks)
  • Trail mix
  • Bowl of cereal
  • Cottage cheese and fruit
  • Nutrition bars
  • Nutrition shake (Carnation Instant Breakfast, for example)
  • Soy Crisps
  • Veggies and hummus
  • Smoothie of fresh or frozen fruit and milk or yogurt

Creating healthy eaters when they are kids will lead to healthy eating habits as they grow into adults. With the obesity epidemic in America, we need to do all we can to encourage healthy habits now!

Photo courtesy of andrei!
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About the Author


Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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