Strive for Good Health and Cancer Prevention while Getting Kids Back to School

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This time of the year is busy with planning, shopping and returning to extracurricular activities and the excitement of a new school year. Before settling into the school year routine, develop a plan to move more and eat more healthily to meet AICR’s Cancer Prevention Recommendation. Talk with your family about ideas that would work for all, and then set your family plan into action. Here are some suggestions from AICR.

Make a plan to move more.

  1. Walk to and from the bus stop or school instead of driving at least twice per week.
  2. Establish your own time to be active once the kids are off to school. Set your routine and commit to it each week. Head straight to the fitness center either after the kids are off or after work, or start walking during your lunch break.
  3. Wear exercise gear when attending your children’s extracurricular activities and buddy up with another parent to walk or jog.
  4. After school and work, catch up with the kids about their day while shooting hoops in the driveway, throwing the football in the yard or biking the neighborhood. 
  5. Plan specific time on the weekend to be active as a family. Hike local trails, participate in local run/walk events, take a new activity class or simply plan time to play in the yard.

Make a plan together to eat healthier food as a family—starting now.

  1. Plan in advance for easy breakfasts with protein and other nutrients.
    1. Stock the refrigerator with Greek yogurt, hard-boiled eggs and low-fat string cheese
    2. Stock the pantry with nut and seed butters, mixed nuts and whole-grain cereals.
    3. Make breakfast casseroles or steel cut oats over the weekend for easy reheat breakfasts during the week.
    4. Keep ingredients like frozen fruit and oatmeal on hand for quick smoothies and overnight oats.
  2. Pack lunches the night before school so lunches are not forgotten in the rush of the morning. Rule of thumb for every lunch be sure to include:
    1. at least one fruit and one vegetable serving
    2. a protein-rich food like low-fat yogurt or cheese, mixed nuts, nut or seed butter spreads, hard-boiled eggs, hummus or other bean-based spreads: or,
    3. sandwiches that include lean animal protein such as fresh baked chicken or tuna, trying to avoid processed meat as much as possible.
  3. Keep fresh-cut vegetables and fruit ready and in view for an after-school snack. Hummus and other bean-based dips or roasted red pepper dips for vegetables and Greek yogurt-based dips for fruit are fun and interesting for kids.
  4. Plan basic menus, make shopping lists and shop over the weekend to make dinner planning much easier and more enjoyable. If you already have the ingredients at home, you are more likely to prepare and eat your meals at home rather than succumb to the temptation of fast food or a drive-through place.
  5. Keep reusable water containers full and waiting in the refrigerator to send with kids to school or grab on your way out the door to activities. Keeping fresh, cold water ready will help you avoid drinking sugar-sweetened beverages.  

Together as a family you can make life healthier. Print this list, add your own personal goals and clip it to your calendar or refrigerator. Revisit the list monthly and add or commit to a new goal each time.  

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Author: Angela Hummel

Angela Hummel, MS, RD, CSO, LDN, is a consulting dietitian with AICR. She is passionate about helping people make positive diet and physical activity changes for reducing cancer risk and for healthier survivorship. She initiated and developed two oncology nutrition programs in cancer centers. Angela also uses her expertise with two AICR programs – the New American Plate Challenge, and the Nutrition hotline.

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