It’s the most wonderful time of year – back-to-school season!! I am a self-proclaimed back-to-school nerd! I love everything about back-to-school season and especially the school supplies list. The smell of new books and notebooks makes me smile. The thrill of having a pack of freshly sharpened pencils, a beautifully stocked new pencil case with pens, pencils, colored pencils, highlighters, erasers is something I always look forward to. Nothing makes me happier than a brand-new agenda book – those beautiful empty pages just waiting for me to fill them with due dates, assignments, to-do lists and meetings.
As a mom, I have always loved taking my kids shopping for back-to-school supplies. We would get new backpacks, matching lunchboxes, all the practical and important items, as well as a couple “wants”, just so they would share in my excitement. And after the shopping trip, I had so much fun organizing all their things, labeling each item, filling the backpack compartments and getting my boys all set up for a successful school year of learning and growing.
After all, that’s what school is really about, the learning, the growth and development. It’s about reaching milestones, exploring new things, unleashing creativity, and acquiring knowledge. As the good parents that we are, we do our best to lay the foundation and provide the tools so they can have the best year ever and a successful learning experience.
However, a successful learning experience requires more than a well-stocked book bag. Kids need a healthy brain, a strong body and well-fueled body systems in order to grow, develop and learn properly. Unfortunately, we are facing a childhood obesity crisis in the U.S. and with it a decline in academic performance and behavior among school-aged children.
According to recent studies, children in the U.S. are at a greater risk of developing obesity than ever before. A 2017 policy statement released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) notes that “obesity is a medical diagnosis with real health consequences”. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides clear evidence that connects healthy eating and physical activity with academic achievement. In a campaign released by the CDC in 2014, the case was made that inadequate consumption of fruits, vegetables and right fats resulted in lower grades among students, and those with higher physical activity and fitness levels tend to have better academic and cognitive performance.
So, what can we, as parents and caregivers do?
A great place to start is the dinner table! According to an article published by the AAP, pre-school children who regularly participated in family mealtimes, in addition to limited screen time and healthy sleep routines, were 40 percent less likely to be diagnosed with obesity.
Do you mean cooking dinner at home every single day? I know just how overwhelming it can feel to have to do all the planning, the cooking, the cleaning up. I am a mom of three boys and well acquainted with the time and schedule challenges that come with that role. However, I have learned that healthy living, in fact, CAN be simple, sustainable and fun for the whole family. I also have a strong conviction that it is an important value that we can pass on to our children.
It all starts with ME! As I work toward my health goals and set the tone for healthy living in my home, the first ones to benefit from my choices are my children and family. And I am absolutely convinced that as our families become healthy, we can grow a healthy community and change the projected negative outlook for the health of the upcoming American generations and maybe even the whole world.
My motto is: “Healthy Me. Healthy Family. Healthy World.”
If you are ready to start taking steps to get you and the ones you love on a path toward an optimal health lifestyle and provide your children with the health and nutrition they need for a successful educational journey, I invite you to attend one of the Whole Food Health Coach workshops on Raising Healthy Families and Nutrition Essentials; or even sign up for the Individual Coaching Program – Healthy Living Series – and get started on your personal health journey today!
by Rachel Souza, CHC