Tips for a heart healthy return to school

By Sarah Noone Nutrition News   |   1st Sep 2020

Registered Dietitian Sarah Noone shares her top tips for a heart-healthy return to school  

Back to school is normally a happy time as our little ones start a fresh school year. However, as we all know there is nothing normal about 2020, and starting school in the middle of a global pandemic means a period of uncertainty for parents and children alike.

When it comes to keeping your little ones healthy during this time it’s best to focus on the big picture things that you can control like emphasising the importance of handwashing, routine bedtimes and a healthy diet.

Here are my top tips for the return to school this year

Aim for a balanced colourful lunchbox but don’t panic.

Try as far as possible to include all the main food groups in your child’s lunch box. This means a portion of fruit, a portion of veggies, for example, salad on a sandwich, carrot or cucumber sticks or some cherry tomatoes; a portion of protein e.g. tuna, chicken, turkey, egg, beans; a portion of dairy e.g. yogurt or cheese, and a portion of wholegrain carbohydrates e.g. wholegrain bread, wholemeal pitta or even some oatcakes. Always remember to pack a bottle of water as well. Although lunch is one of the three important meals in your child’s day, don’t panic if you don’t get everything in because its the overall day which makes up a healthy and balanced diet. Therefore, breakfast, after school snacks, and dinner will also be important.

Ensure little diners can open their lunchboxes

It may sound obvious but it is important to ensure that smaller children can open their own lunch boxes without difficulty, as it can be difficult for tiny hands. This is especially important in a time of COVID to avoid them all having to make trips to the teacher at once to open lunch boxes.

" It may sound obvious but it is important to ensure that smaller children can open their own lunch boxes without difficulty,"

Sarah Noone, Registered Dietitan , The Irish Heart Foundation

Try to reduce stress at home/ school

For the little ones, things like creating routines that allow for predictability, having brain breaks by getting outdoors or doing some activity, quality family time, and eating and sleeping well are all important. For parents planning and preparing lunchboxes and meals in advance, planning your days out, and ensuring you have time set aside in the day for yourself to think and breathe can really help.

Make getting enough sleep a priority

Getting enough sleep is really important for our little ones as part of a healthy lifestyle. Some things that can help include: setting and keeping to regular bedtimes; limiting screens, TVs, computers in the lead up to bedtime and keeping them out of bedrooms, and creating a pre-bedtime routine with calming activities such as reading or talking about their day to help them wind down.

Wishing you all the very best with the beginning of the school year.


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back to school Covid-19 dietitian eat healthy eat well heart healthy nutrition

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