Nutritious Back-To-School Meals

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Submitted by the Baylor College of Medicine…..

healthychoicePlanning children’s meals during the school week can be made simple when providing nutritious foods. Alicia Beltran, research dietitian at the USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital, maps out healthy meals and snacks to feed your child before, during and after school.


Protein fills you up for longer, so you should always include protein in your child’s breakfast. Eggs are a perfect and flexible meal that keep your child full, especially if you incorporate vegetables, which adds more fiber to the meal. Another simple morning meal is a quesadilla with chicken and cheese. Make this with a whole wheat flour or corn tortilla for more fiber and less fat. Serve this with a side of fruit and milk to give your child energy for school.

For a quick breakfast, you can give your child yogurt with fresh fruit and granola so they get their dairy and grains. You can also make them a fruit smoothie. According to Beltran, parents often serve their children orange juice, which is simple sugar since you are not incorporating the fiber of a fresh orange, and is not filling. Instead, make a fresh fruit smoothie with no added sugar to get more nutrients that will keep them full.


Make sure you always include protein, whether it’s baked or grilled chicken or low-sodium deli meat. For adequate dairy intake, pack cheese, yogurt or milk in your child’s lunch. Be careful when purchasing yogurt, as many of them contain added sugars. Fruit flavored yogurt also can double as dessert for the meal. It’s important to always include fresh fruit or vegetables in their lunch – preferably both. Talk to your child to learn which produce they prefer, and pack them for lunch daily.

Parents often choose easy meals over nutritious foods for their children’s lunches. Buying processed foods seems easier, but you spend more money purchasing this instead of taking time to prepare healthier meals for lunch. Beltran suggests making tuna or chicken salad with Greek yogurt instead of the traditional fatty mayo. Children can enjoy this in a sandwich with whole wheat bread or in a whole wheat wrap. You can also change it up and serve it with crackers.

“You can use the same protein in different recipes, depending on what your kid prefers.”

Avoid packing sports beverages or juices that are not 100 percent juice, since they contain added sugars. Chocolate milk should not be their main source of dairy for the meal, but can be packed as a dessert or treat. Pack plain milk for dairy. Children should drink water throughout the day. If they want flavor, try adding fresh orange slices or other fruits to their water. Make sure your child always has water and can refill their bottle at school.

“Add a little treat or note for dessert. It’s ok to pack a small cookie or piece of chocolate from time to time. Just choose wisely,” Beltran said

After-school snacks

Children should eat a snack after school to keep energized for homework and extracurricular activities. Beltran lists nutritional snacks that will keep kids full until dinner:

  • Cheese sticks or string cheese
  • Cut up fruits and vegetables
  • Raisins
  • Trail mix
  • Plain popcorn
  • Fruits they can easily peel, such as citrus like mandarins or cuties
  • Carrots with hummus or low-fat ranch
  • Small peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a small amount of jelly

saladheartRefrain from giving children sugary cereal, candy or other snacks that are high in sugar after school. These snacks will not fill them up or hold them over for dinner. They will grow hungry and cranky quickly.

“Plan ahead. Making lunch doesn’t have to be a nightmare,” Beltran explains. “Take your kid to the grocery store and involve them in the preparation. This makes it fun for them, and they will enjoy it more.”

Easing Back-To-School Jitters

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By Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC

schoolbusSchool bells are ringing and kids are everywhere. As you drive slowly through school zones, you can see and feel the excitement in the air. Kids are walking to school, getting out of buses, and being dropped off on the curb. Some of them look excited and are laughing, while others look confused, withdrawn and afraid. Parents have a powerful influence over their child no matter how old their child is in regards to their school-year success. Easing back-to-school jitters is an important step that parents should prepare for and encourage their child to prepare for as well.

School jitters don’t begin the first day of school. Most likely, they were going on during the last third of the summer. Sometimes parents are so busy with work and vacations that many forget to look for the signs. Did your child act more moody, restless, fatigued or erratic? Many kids have these feelings and adjust fine after school has started, but 15% do not. These 15% may have difficulty adjusting to the school year, and may require parental interventions to help them get on track.

How can you, as a parent, help your child adjust, so they feel confident and capable to handle the requirements for their grade level?

1. Begin by talking to your child and listening. Ask them how they feel about the new school year and if they are nervous about any particular aspect. If they tell you their fears, DO NOT try to talk them out of it. Listen and validate how they feel by telling them you can understand how their fears would be worrisome. Then help them write down alternatives they can act on if their fear comes true. For example: if your child is afraid they won’t have anyone to sit by during lunch, then write down three actions they could take. In this particular example, they could choose to sit with someone or organize a pizza party at their house to meet more kids prior to school beginning. This would help them break the ice in the comfort of their own home. Another option may be to have one friend they can call the night before school begins and make plans with that person to eat with them during lunch.

2. Do not ignore signs of distress. If sadness, anxiety, crying or anorexia goes on longer than two weeks, it isn’t a stage…it is a problem. Most problems that bring kids to counseling were not serious when they first began. They were denied until they became serious.

3. Plan with your child what supplies they need prior to school. Do they need a desk, computer or quiet area for schoolwork? If your child is going away to school, they will be more secure if the structure of their room is complete. Kids away from home do better when they like their room and feel secure there. The same is true for your child at home. Everyone does better when they have their own space to work.

4. Encourage your child to set healthy expectations. It takes time to get into the groove of a new school year. This is true whether you are in college or grade school. After a short time of adjustment, you can raise your expectations as you have more experience to draw from in regards to what is expected.

5. If your child is going away to school, stay connected to them, but not intrusive. Let them know you are there and they have a secure home base. Be available, but give them space to work out their problems without intervening unless necessary.

If you notice your child is struggling and not able to cope, begin to talk to your child about visiting a counselor. Many times children do want help, but are afraid to ask. If parents talk to their children and reassure them that a counselor will be helpful, most children can talk to a counselor in regards to what they are feeling and how to better handle their concerns.

Here’s to a happy, healthy new school year.

– Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever. Read more about the book at and more about Rapini at

4 Surefire Ways To Go Back To School Without Acne – Part 2

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By Mia Liefso

Continued from part 1 of this article…..

womanskin2. Weather extremes. The winters can be bitterly cold and the summers somewhat dry. You need a skincare line that can react to this harshness.

3. Moisturizer. If you have oily skin, your tendency will be to shy away from moisturizers. EVERY skin type needs moisture and hydration.

4. Check the ingredients. You want to make sure your skin care products contain the minerals, vitamins and healing properties your skin needs. For our teenagers, we often recommend our Dead Sea products which help to remove the excess oils and skin impurities. A good soap is essential for a good acne regime.

5. Foundation.You want a foundation that covers acne scars, blemishes and hyperpigmentation that won’t shine like you have Crisco on your face at the end of the school day. Make sure to find an oil-free formula.

Chances are a home regime, coupled with good skin care products may not be enough, particularly if you have moderate to severe teenage acne. You may need some supplemental acne treatments at a medical spa.

Tip #3: You Can Peel Away Your Blemishes

Medical grade chemical peels are an excellent defense mechanism for teenage acne. They help to exfoliate the skin by applying a gentle alpha or beta hydroxyacid to the top layer of your skin. This exfoliation signals the cells inside the skin to accelerate, thus preventing pores from being clogged.

Contrary to it name, chemical peels don’t really “peel” the skin. Instead, they quickly exfoliate the skin, sloughing off the dead skin cells. By keeping dead skin cells and excess oil from clogging your follicles, pore blockages and your pimples can be dramatically decreased.

Your friends will not even know you’ve had a chemical peel … there is no downtime and you can go right back to school or studying (drat) after this 30-minuite treatment. Your skin may look slightly sunburned, and it’s essential to be diligent about applying sunscreen for a couple of weeks after the peel. It’s okay to apply makeup to cover any of the redness.

According to, studies show about a 45-50% reduction in acne lesions after a series of 4-6 peels.

femalewashingfaceTip #4: Consider Laser To Help Acne at Light Speed

Relative newer to the cosmetic industry is the use of laser treatments to help with acne scarring. Laser acne therapy is a non-invasive, safe and effective way to treat teenage acne without dangerous medications or downtime. It can reduce and often eliminate acne on the face, shoulders, back and chest, leaving you with blemish free skin.

Laser acne treatments pulse light into the skin in a way that destroys acne-causing bacteria, while also directly targeting your sebaceous glands.We know that acne is generally caused by dead cells, too much sebum, bacteria and infection in the hair follicles, all of which are effectively targeted and destroyed by laser therapy. Laser treatments can also be used to help with teenage scarring, by stimulating healthy cells to produce collagen, thus creating newer, more even skin.

Don’t Just Live With Acne, Fight It!

No matter which combination of teenage acne treatments you choose, know that there are new technologies and skin care products coming on to the market every day that are targeted at helping you have a clearer, healthier complexion. Acne can’t be cured, but it can be effectively controlled. Starting these treatments may make your acne worse for a short period of time before it gets better. And if you control it in your teenage years, hopefully you won’t have to deal with adult acne.

Keep your chin up … free of acne that is!

Mia Liefso is a professional medical skin therapist and the owner of Bradford Skin Clinic & Med Spa in Bradford, Ontario. She has certifications in IPL, LHE, laser and ultrasound technologies, as well as body contouring and medical facial peels. Her areas of special interest include difficult skin conditions—psoriasis, eczema, and acne—premature aging, and endocrinology. Mia’s passion lies in helping people love the skin they’re in.

4 Surefire Ways To Go Back To School Without Acne – Part 1

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By Mia Liefso

acneThe teenage years are bad enough without having to cope with acne. As you head back to school, you don’t need to hear the taunting of “pimple puss” or “zit face” on top of all the other pressures and stresses associated with grade school or high school. Want to be proud of your school pictures versus embarrassed? Want to stop hiding your face behind your hair? We have some good news for you … your acne is treatable. Not curable, but treatable.

We’re combining advice from skin care specialists around the country to give you a four-pronged approach to banish those breakouts using a combination of:

1) good home skin care practices
2) beneficial skincare products
3) chemical peels
4) laser acne rejuvenation treatments

The results? A complexion you’ll be proud to have on your face!

Tip #1: Be Diligent About At Home Skin Care

1. Wash your face twice a day, in the morning and before you go to bed. Don’t overdo it because you can make acne worse with abrasive scrubs, loofahs and masks that can cause more outbreaks.

2. Keep your hair off your face, particularly at bedtime. Pull your hair back with a headband. Wash your pillow cases and sheets frequently to remove the bacteria and oils.

3. As tempting as it is, do not, I repeat do not, pop your pimples. This can result in scarring and will just spread the bacteria.

4. Know that cell phone that is stuck in your ear 24/7? Scrub the screen daily to remove any makeup or oils.

5. Remove your makeup before you go to bed. It can clog your pores and irritate the skin. Clean your makeup brushes at least once/month.

6. Involved in sports? Clean your face immediately after the big game to remove the sweat! Not near a bathroom? Use a face wipe.

7. You’re never too young to wear sunscreen. Choose one for oily skin.

8. Be wary of prescription medication used to treat acne. Some may have serious side effects such as depression.

waterbottle9. Keep your skin hydrated by drinking lots of water – not sugary sodas, but good old fashioned water. Water helps to remove the toxins and build new skin cells.

10. Control your diet. Eat whole grains, nuts and seeds to improve selenium, and vegetables and fruits to cleanse the colon. Oily fish is essential for fatty acids and vitamin D to reduce inflammation and help feed the skin.Limit your intake of oily and fast foods, pies, cakes, French fries, sugary drinks and butter. Avoid stimulants such as colas, caffeine, and coffee as these may lower zinc absorption. Sorry.

Tip #2: Use GOOD Skin Care Products

Your bathroom is probably littered with over-the-counter skincare products that haven’t helped your acne, despite the promises. And it’s not just about your face – your back, neck and shoulders can also be acne prone.

There is no “one size fits all” skin care solution to acne. If you have teenage acne, it’s probably best to be seen by a dermatologist or licensed aesthetician. Why? Because there are thousands of skincare products on the market that target teenage acne, 95% of which don’t work.

1. Medical grade versus over-the-counter. My teenage clients continuously ask me if medical grade skin care products are really worth the money (particularly if you are paying for them versus your parents). The answer is a resounding Yes! The old adage that you get what you pay for applies to skin care products as well. Medical grade products have been approved by a doctor and rigorously tested for their effectiveness. They contain stronger ingredients that are of a higher quality. For instance, we carry the extremely popular and effective Obagi line which is monitored for each teenager by our Nurse.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this article shortly…..

Mia Liefso is a professional medical skin therapist and the owner of Bradford Skin Clinic & Med Spa in Bradford, Ontario. She has certifications in IPL, LHE, laser and ultrasound technologies, as well as body contouring and medical facial peels. Her areas of special interest include difficult skin conditions—psoriasis, eczema, and acne—premature aging, and endocrinology. Mia’s passion lies in helping people love the skin they’re in.

Back To School Resolutions – For Parents

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By Adelle Cadieux, PsyD

kidsunningtogetherSummer can be a very enjoyable time for families. With all the fun to be had, it also tends to be a time when families fall out of habit with some of the basics that help kids be healthy and successful during the rest of the year. As school sets to resume soon, this is a great time to begin re-establishing, or establishing for the first time, healthy habits. New Year’s is not the only time to resolve to life improvements. Parents can make resolutions timed with the start of a new school year that will bring about healthier, more balanced lives for the entire family.
Consider some of the following new school year resolutions or create your own.

• Establish a consistent sleep schedule — This will help kids get adequate sleep, which improves concentration, memory and promotes learning. It also helps kids feel better, behave better and not be so irritable. Going back to school also means being around more kids which can equal more germs. Sleep helps the immune system and can be one of the many actions your child can take to staying healthy.

• Make breakfast a priority — Getting kids out the door in time can be challenging, but skipping breakfast to save time or sending them out with an easy-to-take food like a cereal bar, is not adequate to help them be healthy. Breakfast helps kids to have better energy, endurance and focus. Breakfast can also help keep kids from overeating later in the day, which can lead to weight issues. Sitting down to a healthy breakfast that includes protein is preferable, but if your child needs to have a take-with-you breakfast, plan ahead. Make yogurt smoothies or an egg and try low fat cheese on whole grain.

kidseatinghealthy• Don’t stop with breakfast. Lunch and after school snacks are important too—Skipping meals can lead to irritability, decreased concentration, and overeating later in the day. Plan for healthy lunches to keep kids feeling good during the school day and to replenishing their strength so that they can keep up the hard work of learning. Most kids are hungry after school. To keep kids from overeating, either after school or at dinner time, plan ahead for a healthy snacks. Great snacks combine a little protein with a carbohydrate. Try a snack of fruit and veggies with piece of string cheese or pretzels and dried fruit dipped in peanut butter. But, don’t snack if you’re not hungry.

• Structure the evening — when kids have a consistent schedule, they are better prepared and understand expectations. Set a specific time and place for completing homework. Build in physical activity. Even if the weather isn’t good, you can be active inside too. Being active with your child is a great way to have family time, but also models healthy behaviors for your child. Set a consistent time for dinner and sit down to enjoy the time together as a family.
By getting kids on track with their sleep, eating, physical activity and evening structure, parents can help keep their kids healthy and ready to learn. And, they can create a balanced home in the process.

– Dr. Cadieux, pediatric psychologist, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Grand Rapids, MI, is a member of The American Psychological Association (APA), APA’s Division 54: Society of Pediatric Psychology, and Division 54 Pediatric Obesity Special Interest Group. Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is Spectrum Health hospital.