September 2010 | | 1-888-376-7136

[Volume 9, Issue 1]

Back To School? Back to Breakfast

There are two things that all kids need before heading out the door in the mornings: a good night's sleep and a healthy breakfast. Children tend to have an easier time learning and getting their school work done when they've got some food in their stomachs. While any type of food is better than nothing in the morning, it's best to combine some protein such as peanut butter, eggs or meat with some whole grain carbohydrates like oatmeal, whole grain bread, or whole grain cereals. And it's okay to sprinkle a little sugar on that cereal, but some pre-sweetened breakfast cereals contain way too much sugar. Top off breakfast with a glass of milk or 100% fruit juice and your student should be well-fueled and ready to go.

And about that good night's sleep? Give your kids a light, carbohydrate-rich snack an hour or two before bedtime, such as a piece of toast with jelly or a bowl of fresh fruit. Carbs help to stimulate production of serotonin, a brain chemical that makes us happy, relaxed and a little sleepy. Or try eating some cherries, which are rich in melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep.
Good Breakfast Key To Being Calm on First Day
Educator and dietitian Connie Diekman explains how the right foods can keep kids feeling calm and ready to learn. Eating breakfast at home or at school is the key to starting the day off on the right foot.

Breakfast doesn't have to be complicated or time-consuming; here are a few tips for parents and kids:
  • Prepare a few hard-boiled eggs and keep them in the refrigerator for a quick protein source.
  • Breakfast cereal with milk or milk substitute is quick to serve and can be very healthy when you choose whole grain cereals without added sugar.  Stay with cereals that have 5 grams sugar per serving or less.
  • Knowledge is power. Teach kids the importance of breakfast and why they need to eat good foods.
More Money For Healthier Lunches?

The United States senate has passed "Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act" that will expand children's access to healthy school foods, but first it has to pass through the House of Representatives.  They're expected to pass it, but they haven't set a specific time yet.  Passage of the bill will result in a $4.5 billion in school lunches and breakfast.  The bill will set standards for school foods in both the cafeteria and in the vending machines.  Hopefully, more kids will have access to healthier foods and this will be a helpful tool in the fight against childhood obesity.

Coming Soon? Healthier School Lunches

This article from ABC news discusses the new"Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act."  The new bill has brought words of praise from supporters, including First Lady Michelle Obama, who has championed efforts to reduce the rates of childhood obesity.  The bill isn't without it's detractors, however, and opponents cite the cost as a concern.  In fact, the House version, "Improving Nutrition for America's Children Act," is even more expansive, coming in at $8 billion.  
Smarter Choices When Dining Out
Most of us are busy with jobs, housework and after-school activities so it's just more convenient to eat dinner at a local restaurant.  In fact, we're spending more money at restaurants than in the past, so chances are it's a trend that will hang around for awhile.  And the site of so many chain restaurants lining just about any city street should confirm that.  The problem with eating in restaurants is that we tend to eat too much because they serve huge portions of high-calorie (and not always nutritious) foods, and this might be one of the reasons obesity has become such a problem.  The occasional meal at a restaurant isn't a big deal, but for families who dine out more than once a week, it's important to learn how to make healthy choices when perusing the menu.


Tips To Make Smart Choices When Ordering Out at Your Favorite Restaurant

Registered Dietitain Cheryl Ann Macellaro offers some tips for choosing healthier foods at three popular dining categories: Chinese, Italian and Mexican restaurants.  The strategy is to cut fat, calories, sugar and sodium - the main culprits in restaurant food that cause us to gain fat and ruin our health.  They're very helpful tips that you can teach your students and take home to your own families:
  • Choose salads with lots of greens and vegetables and ask to have the dressing served on the side so you can use it sparingly.
  • Portions are so large because people want lots of food for the money, split a meal with a dining partner or take half of your meal home to heat and eat later.
  • Order a salad or a clear soup for starters and choose an appetizer as your main meal, but avoid fried foods that are high in calories and bad fats.
How To Help Kids Gain Weight

Most doctors, nutritionists, dietitians and parents focus on weight loss because obesity is so widespread, even in kids.  But we don't want to forget about the people who are underweight and need help to gain a few healthy pounds.  Sometimes it's genetics - some kids are prone to be thin, but sometimes it's due to a poor diet.  And of course, you need to keep an eye out for kids who are developing eating disorders in older children.

The Skinny On Helping Kids Gain Weight
While some kids are genetically prone to being thin, some picky eaters may be underweight, and in other cases an emotional component may figure into a child being underweight.  Many parents of underweight children want to stuff their kids with more food, but maybe the answer is to choose calorie-dense foods instead of more volume.  And a trip to the doctor is a good idea too - some kids go through growth stages and may fill out as they get a little older.

This article from The Chicago Tribune focuses on younger children, however the advice is similar for children of all ages.  Start with a medical check up to rule out

any health conditions and then teach parents and children to choose healthy higher-calorie foods.  Don't resort to giving underweight children more candy, soda and fast foods, that just sets them up for trouble later in life.  Here are few ideas:
  • Teach kids that calories need to come from healthy foods not junk foods.
  • Healthy calorie-dense foods include nuts, seeds, dried fruits and fruit juice.
  • Kids can also get extra calories (and calcium) from cheese and whole milk.
How Awesome is is the only web-based system of its kind.  Take a look at these testimonials to see how made an impact for these schools.

Here are some of the new features introduced in our 2010 version!
  • Parents can order from a calendar like menu.
  • Newly formatted coupons/ meal tickets.
  • School can offer discounted or free meals.
  • Add images to your menu items, great for fund raisers.
  • Multiple levels of Administrator  access, control access at your school.
  • Automated Cut-off dates.
  • Ability to issue credits for Snow days, or no lunch days.
  • Parents can  copy an order from one child to another.
  • Pre select drinks for the entire menu in advance.
We're now on Facebook  has expanded Web presence to Facebook.  The new Facebook Page will provide you a wealth on information and updates on School and Children’s nutrition.  

Please show your support and become a "Fan" of! ­Visit our Facebook­ Page and select the text "Become a Fan" from the top right.

Nutrient Facts Sodium

Selenium is a trace mineral that your body uses in small amounts for many different functions, but the main function is to help protect the cells in your body. Selenium combines with proteins to make antioxidants that help protect your cells from free radical damage due to pollution, smoking, some chemicals and other toxins. Free radical damage can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.  Selenium is also essential for normal thyroid function and is also necessary for a strong immune system.

Selenium is a popular mineral when it comes to research.  Some studies indicates there may be a lower risk of cancer and heart disease among people who have larger amounts of selenium in their diets.  So far, clinical studies haven't shown that taking selenium supplements makes much of a difference for preventing cancer, and more studies need to be done to see if selenium supplements may have any affect on cardiovascular disease. 

Selenium deficiency is not common except in people with severe digestive system problems.  You get selenium from plant-based foods, seafood and meat.  Three ounces of tuna or six ounces of beef give you all the selenium you need for a whole day, which is about 65 micrograms.  Brazil nuts contain the largest concentration of selenium - one ounce has 544 micrograms, or about 10 times your daily need.

Source: Office of Dietary Supplements. "Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet."

More About School Lunches and Healthy Kids

5 Weight-Loss Websites That Work

Lack of Food Puts Kids at Risk for Asthma, Other Chronic Ills

US Breakfasts Need a Makeover

Simplicity Trend Is Here To Stay

About Shereen Jegtvig

Shereen Jegtvig is a health and nutrition writer with two decades of experience counseling people on nutrition and diet. She has a master’s degree in human nutrition and is a member of the American Dietetic Association. Shereen writes about nutrition for the large website ( and is co-author of Superfoods for Dummies (