Healthy back to school tips from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

September 7, 2011

DETROIT — School is back in session across Michigan, which means early bedtimes, packed lunches and busy schedules. Parents and children are re-establishing school-year routines and resuming the daily juggle of multiple responsibilities. Research indicates that people, especially children, thrive on routine and predictable schedules.

Incorporating healthy habits into the daily mix is a great way to kick off the school year.

Nutrition, physical activity and rest can improve children's energy, productivity and learning throughout the school year. Grace Derocha, R.D., C.D.E., M.B.A., registered dietitian and certified health coach for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, recommends the following healthy back-to-school tips for parents and children:

  1. Incorporate five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Try to include fruits and vegetables in breakfast, lunch, dinner and after-school snacks. Eating fruits and vegetables provides the most efficient way of delivering vitamins and minerals to the body. It also helps boost the immune system and the ability to ward off illness. One serving is one cup raw and a half a cup cooked. 
  2. Reduce sugary drinks. Encourage children to drink water, low-fat dairy products and 100 percent fruit juice (if juice is a must) instead of pop and other sugary drinks. Sugary and high calorie beverages have empty calories with no real nutrition. Eliminating these types of beverages from the diet is a great way to tackle childhood obesity. 
  3. Fit in at least one hour of physical activity each day. Encourage children to play outside after school or join an after-school activity to add exercise to their day. Exercise helps children's energy levels, mood, sleep, routine, heart health and health in general. 
  4. Limit sedentary activity to two hours a day. This includes playing video games, watching TV and sitting in front of a computer. This complements the goal of exercising daily, while also helping children establish a healthy routine. 
  5. Enforce a bedtime routine for adequate sleep. Eight hours of sleep every night is recommended for maximum health. Regular sleep patterns help children grow and perform well academically and physically throughout the week. 

For more information on making better choices for children and the entire family, visit aHealthierMichigan.org.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit organization, provides and administers health benefits to more than 4.3 million members residing in Michigan in addition to members of Michigan-headquartered groups who reside outside the state. BCBSM also offers dental, vision and hearing plans. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network are nonprofit corporations and independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more company information, visit bcbsm.com.