Dietitian Liz Weiss Shares Top Five Back-to-School Health Boosters for Kids

August 1, 2018

Liz Weiss portraitMom of Two and Blogger Behind “Liz’s Healthy Table” Offers Simple and Natural Ways to Keep the Tiny Troops Strong and Focused as They Transition from Lazy Summer Days to An Often Hectic Routine

For many, the shift from a serene summer routine to a more rigorous, action-packed school schedule can easily cause back-to-school burnout. It’s a hectic time for parents—but it’s even more stressful for kids. Now is the time to pay attention to their nutritional and self-care habits to keep their bodies and brains in tip-top shape from the minute the school bell rings. Family nutrition expert Liz Weiss, MS, RDN, encourages parents to follow her top five strategies for keeping their kids’ school game going strong, using natural products and supplements they can feel good about from NOW®, a leading natural products manufacturer.

“As a mom of two grown boys, I know how real the struggle can be around a new routine,” said Weiss. “But I also know that by giving my boys a strong foundation to their schedule, grounded in good nutrition and wellness habits, it would only help keep them healthy, alert, and focused (and me sane!) during that school shift. That’s why I trust NOW, a family-owned company known for their leadership in producing only the safest and highest-quality natural products, from supplements to foods and more. From one family to another, they can be counted on for a cleaner and healthier back-to-school transition.”

In fact, NOW performs approximately 16,000 analytical tests per month on raw ingredients and finished products to ensure that what is on the label is in the bottle. This includes testing for heavy metals, pesticides, adulterants and other harmful contaminants.

Pass the Brain Power, Please

All summer long, your kids used their brains to power their muscles as they ran and played. Now it’s time to turn all that brain energy toward learning, so turn to omega-3 fats, a category of good-for-you fats that fuel healthy brains.* Fish is abundant in a type of omega-3 fatty acid called DHA, which also makes up a large percentage of the human brain and helps support brain health during all stages of life.* Calcium is to bones what omega-3 is to the brain; it’s needed for optimal brain development.*

Eating seafood twice a week should cover your family’s needs, but if your diet falls short on salmon, shrimp, trout and other fatty fish, consider supplementing with NOW® DHA Kids Chewable Softgels to keep your child’s brain boosted.* You can explore plant-based sources of omega-3s too—chia, hemp, and flax seeds all have these brain-supporting fats, and they’re all in this Triple Omega Seed Mix.* Easiest way to do it? Sprinkle some on your child’s morning bowl of cereal.

Give Breakfast a Healthy Makeover

Children who eat breakfast do better in school. They’re more likely to get along with their peers, have better behavior in the classroom, and even have fewer absences. Kids who make time for their morning meal are less likely to be overweight, and they consume more nutrients, including fiber, folate, calcium, and protein.

Make breakfast more enticing and bring skippers back to the table! At the same time, shift away from sugary, carb-heavy foods like cereal or toaster pastries and pack more protein in. Protein has staying power, and it’s best to distribute it evenly over the course of a day to keep muscles well fueled versus eating most of it at dinner. Try an easy-to-make yogurt parfait that’s great for on-the-go, made with an Organic Quinoa Q Cup™. Or, smoothies are irresistible and portable. And when they’re made with fresh or frozen fruit, Greek yogurt, milk, baby spinach, and even avocados, they provide important nutrients like fiber, protein, and calcium. To give them even more nutritional value, add a scoop of NOW® Sports Vanilla Plant Protein Complex to smoothies and smoothie bowls. It’ll give them 22 grams of protein as well as kid-friendly flavor.

An Armed and Ready Immune System

Getting sick is no fun. Washing hands, eating fruits and veggies rich in immune-boosting vitamins A and C, and getting plenty of rest are first-line defenses against bad bugs. But you know what else can support optimal immune function? Good bugs—the trillions of bacteria that live in and on us, known as the microbiome. They’re invisible but powerful, and most live in our intestinal tracks (AKA, gut). Research shows that a healthy microbiome may help to support healthy immune function.

A daily probiotic supplement like BerryDophilus Chewables added to your arsenal can help to keep your child’s immune system in tip-top shape.* Some probiotic foods to also add to your family’s diet include kefir, kimchi, and yogurt. For extra defense, try Vitamin C-500 Orange Chewable Tablets.*

Put the Kibosh on Occasional Constipation

Occasional constipation is pretty common with kids. In fact, it’s the most common specific diagnosis kids receive when they go to the ER. To promote healthy digestive habits and regularity, encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, especially water; consume fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; and stay active to keep things moving inside and out. If fiber is your biggest hurdle, consider the numbers: The daily recommended fiber intake is 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women, and boys and girls need close to the same. Toddlers 1–3 need 19 grams per day.

Studies show that most Americans need to double their consumption to meet these recommendations. Over 90% of us aren’t getting enough. No wonder kids are having trouble in the bathroom! NOW is here to the rescue with an idea for increasing your child’s fiber intake. Try adding chia seeds, a surprising source of fiber, into a smoothie, or better yet, a chia pudding. A heaping tablespoon has three grams of fiber.

Stress Busters

Are your kids stressed out with all the homework and to-dos? Try helping them through with some mindfulness and relaxation exercises, like taking a few minutes to close their eyes and concentrate on their breath. You can find family yoga classes on YouTube, and even just doing Child’s Pose for a few minutes can calm a child’s nerves. If the homework is causing stress, take ten-minute breaks to run around the backyard or have a dance party.

Just your presence can help reduce your child’s stress. I also love using an essential oil diffuser near the end of the day. Diffusing soothing essential oil blends while reading or listening to quiet music washes away the day’s stress. As far as essential oils go, you need to choose one that’s right for your family. My go-to in the evenings is always Lavender for its soothing properties. If your kids are having trouble sleeping at night, send them to bed with a cup of calming tea to help them relax, unwind, and slip into dreamland.

More of Liz’s health boosters.

ABOUT LIZ WEISS:

Liz Weiss, MS, RDN, is a mom of two grown boys with a specialty in family nutrition. She’s the voice behind the family food podcast and blog, Liz’s Healthy Table, and her site is filled with easy, flavorful, and nourishing recipes that appeal to both kids and adults. Liz has written several cookbooks, including the playful new coloring e-book series, Color, Cook, Eat!, No Whine with Dinner, and The Moms' Guide to Meal Makeovers.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.