With school back in session, it’s time to put healthy habits into action this fall. Making healthy choices in any season requires effort, but with the ongoing pandemic and unique school year, stress can easily hinder our immunity. Healthy habits like packing wholesome lunches and fitting in daily exercise help keep your whole family healthy, happy and on track. Here are some healthy back-to-school habits your family should engage in this season:
Get the right amount of sleep
For kids, summer typically means staying up late and sleeping past noon. With class back in session, those sleeping habits may create a problem for focus, health and energy. Sleep plays a crucial role in health and well-being, and getting quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental and physical health, quality of life, and safety.
Having a routine sleep schedule is especially important for middle and high school-aged children because it promotes attention, memory, and analytical thought. It also improves their immune system, balances hormones, boosts metabolism and improves brain function. To improve your sleep habits, it may help to:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
- Avoid screen time an hour before going to bed.
- Avoid heavy and/or large meals within a couple of hours of bedtime.
- Be active throughout the day, so you sleep well at night
Achieve balanced nutrition
A balanced diet gives your body the nutrients it needs to function properly. Combined with physical activity, your diet can help you promote your overall health.
For children, eating nutritious foods rich in fiber, protein, and healthy fats can keep the body feeling fuller longer, providing enough energy to focus and stay alert throughout the school day. Research also indicates that improvements in nutrient intake can influence school-aged children’s cognitive ability and intelligence levels.
Not only are nutritious foods great for the brain, but they also help boost the immune system, helping your family stay healthy all year long. Include some of these immune-boosting foods in your child’s lunch box:
- Foods rich in probiotics (naturally-fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, and kombucha)
- Foods that are high in prebiotics & antioxidants (colorful fruits and vegetables, garlic, turmeric, pecans, dark chocolate)
- Foods high in postbiotics (soft cheeses, sweet potatoes, whole grains)
- Foods high in vitamin C (all citrus fruits, broccoli, green or red peppers, spinach)
Check out these super easy recipes to boost your and your child’s immune system!
While gym class may be different this school year, exercise at home can keep the whole family healthy. Exercise can be the best defense against many common mental health issues that students struggle with, such as stress, anxiety, panic disorders, and depression. Make physical activity a part of your family’s routine with these helpful tips:
- Establish goals that everyone can achieve together, such as walking 30 minutes a day, three times a week.
- Schedule time for your family’s physical activity.
- Be flexible. If something comes up, reschedule instead of canceling.
Keep your immune system healthy
The immune system is a network of cells, proteins, and organs that fight infection to keep you healthy. With kids back in class, flu season around the corner, and the ongoing pandemic, now is an incredibly important time to keep immunity up in the household by:
- Exercising regularly
- Getting adequate sleep
- Eating healthy
- Taking steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently
- Taking immune-boosting supplements, such as vitamin C and vitamin D