It’s that time of year again- back to school time! Sure, it may seem like having the kids in school all day will give you a bit for free time to devote to planning and preparing nutritious meals, but that isn’t always the case. Before I had my son, I had this idea in my head that when I went back to work and he headed off to daycare, that you basically just drop your child off, kiss and hug them, and then spend the rest of the day working. I didn’t really give thought to the time needed to plan out lunches and snacks for the day, clean out the lunch boxes from the night before, prep healthy breakfasts we could eat before we head out in the morning, and find time to prepare a healthy dinner as well. Honestly, those first few weeks of adjusting to a new schedule stressed me out more than I could have ever expected. And I think many parents feel the same way.
Whenever you and your family are adjusting to a new schedule, such as the one at the start of the school year, it’s normal to feel a bit stressed and overwhelmed. I see this in so many of my client. That first week or two of the new school year is pretty much a whirlwind filled with grabbing meals and snacks mindlessly on the run. If this sounds like you, I wanted to help take away some of that stress. That’s why I teamed up with my friends over at Chobani to develop my top five quick-fix lunches for all of you busy moms out there. These simple lunches can be pulled together in minutes and are packed full of the healthy nutrients that your little ones needs. Feel free to mix and match these options up for a well-balanced, stress-free start to the school day.
Some kids are more snackers than meal eaters. I get this since I am more likely to graze on food throughout the day than to sit down to a big meal. For snack lovers, try using a compartmentalized bento box to offer a variety of bite sized options. The small portions and increased variety are a great way to prevent your child from feeling ‘overwhelmed’ at mealtime. This is also a great way to introduce new foods in kid-friendly portions. For a balanced lunch, pair together a whole grain muffin, carrot sticks with hummus for a dip, turkey breast, strawberries, and almonds. To save time, spend one day per week washing and slicing variety of fruits and vegetable so you can just grab and go when packing a lunch. For mini muffins, I usually make these in batches of 24 and freeze them. If you pop one in the lunchbox in the morning, it will typically thaw by lunchtime. Round out the lunch with an adorable Doc McStuffins squeezable pouch of Chobani Kids, which contains two times as much protein than the leading kid’s yogurt and 25% less sugar. With a varied lunch such as this one, even if your child does not finish all the foods offered, you can still feel reassured that she consumed a variety of essential nutrients.
If you are packing meals for daycare, it can be easy to run out of ideas for soft food options that provide your little one with the nutrition that he needs. For toddlers, adequate protein, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids are essential for development and growth. That’s why I love this combination of applesauce, diced butternut squash, whole grain tortellini, and a broccoli & carrot quiche for a mix of antioxidants, protein, and fiber. To round out the lunchbox, I add in a squeezable Chobani yogurt, which is made with only natural, non-GMO ingredients, real fruit, and provides 12mg of DHA omega-3 fatty acids to help promote healthy brain development.
Picky Eater Perfection
If you have a picky eater at home, you are probably no stranger to having your child’s lunchbox return home after the school day completely untouched. To make lunch more appealing to even the pickiest child, liven it up by adding a mix of fun shapes and colors. It doesn’t have to take long to make a ‘fun’ lunchbox. I use a combination of colorful silicone shapes to hold bite-sized snacks along with cookie cutters to decorate sandwiches, fruits, vegetables, and even cheese slices. For the best results, look for the cookie cutters that have a spring-loaded punch. These can cut through more challenging foods like bread and vegetables much more quickly than the standard cutters. Sometimes all it takes is a touch of food art to turn the pickiest eater into an adventurous eater.
The goal of your child’s lunch should be to fuel both her body and her mind. One way to accomplish this is to make sure to include at least one or two “brain foods” into even lunchbox. Foods rich is omega 3 fatty acids such as fish, walnuts, edamame, and Chobani Tots which contains 12 mg of DHA Omega 3 per serving, can make great additions to any meal. Round these brain foods out with antioxidant-packed fruits and vegetables and you have a delicious recipe for academic success. For a quick and easy lunchbox, pack together a tuna sandwich on whole grain bread along with a handful of walnuts, blueberries, and edamame. Toss in a Chobani Tots squeezable yogurt for an added boost of DHA.
The Chocolate Lover
Do you have a chocolate lover? I do and sometimes it can be a challenge to get him to eat a meal without the constant begging for “dark treats” as he likes to call chocolate chips. So why not give him what he wants? Of course I don’t mean feed your child chocolate every lunch, but you can incorporate it in a healthy way to make both mom and child happy (and in our house this makes my junk-food loving husband quite happy as well).
I take Chobani Vanilla Greek Yogurt, which contains no artificial preservatives, sweeteners, or flavors, and top it with a small sprinkling of mini dark chocolate chips. This makes the perfect ‘dessert’ for any meal while providing a good source of protein and calcium. You can even try mixing one teaspoon of 100% cocoa powder into one cup of Chobani for a delicious chocolate ‘mousse.’
Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Chobani. All opinions are my own.
When it comes to weight loss, a lifestyle change that is customized to you and your dietary habits is the key to success. Just as we all have different personalities, we also each have a unique weight loss personality. This is why a ‘one size fits all’ approach to weight loss just doesn’t work. Tailoring a plan to your lifestyle is necessary for both weight loss, and most importantly- weight maintenance following weight loss. Let’s discuss different weight loss personalities and identify strategies for each one to promote long term weight loss success.
The Personality: ‘Perfectionist’
Do you find yourself always trying to do everything right, all of the time? Are you hard on yourself when things do not go exactly as planned? If so, you likely have a ‘perfectionist’ personality. When it comes to eating, it is nearly impossible be perfect 100% of the time. Life is going to throw curveballs that require a bit of leniency in your diet; and while you may not be able to make the perfect food choice every single time, you can still lose weight and maintain a perfectly healthy lifestyle! Often with this personality we see over restriction and emphasis on ‘forbidden’ foods. Even one diet ‘slip up’ can cause feelings of failure or hopelessness and lead to a cycle of overeating followed by over restriction.
The Strategy: Stop the cycle! Work on learning to forgive yourself when you do have a diet ‘slip up’, and try incorporating a small weekly indulgence to your diet. Adding flexibility to your diet will not hinder your health or your weight loss efforts, and you will likely feel more relaxed and at peace with your new lifestyle changes.
The Personality: Impulsive
Do you get halfway through the bag of Doritos before you even realize you grabbed them from the kitchen? Do you take seconds at dinner just because the leftovers were sitting there? These are habits seen often with ‘impulsive’ personalities. Changing your lifestyle usually requires a bit of planning and thoughtfulness, especially in the beginning while getting used to new foods and eating habits. Those with impulsive personalities are more likely make a poor dietary choice in the moment and less likely to consider the feelings of guilt that usually follow. Impulsive eating often leads to poor dietary decisions, disregard of hunger cues, and overeating.
The Strategy: Get rid of temptation! Think about the food temptations you give into throughout the day and find a way to eliminate these temptations altogether. Stock your fridge and cabinets with healthy snacks and avoid buying sugary and salty treats. Contribute a healthy dish at the next BBQ so you know there will be something nutritious there for you to eat. Keep dinner leftovers on the kitchen counter or somewhere they will be out of reach. Making your food choices more planned and deliberate throughout the day will help you stay on track!
The Personality: Night Owl
Do you find yourself staying awake late into the night even when you don’t need to? The ‘night owl’ personality is a common one, and it can have a substantial impact on your weight loss efforts. Studies have shown that people who stay up later often engage in night time snacking and consume significantly more calories than those who hit the sack earlier. Additionally, sleep deprivation can lead to clouded judgment when choosing foods the following day, and can also mess with your hunger and satiety hormones.
The Strategy: Commit to a bedtime! Choose a bedtime that is realistic for your lifestyle, preferably early enough to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night, and commit to it. To promote a more restful sleep, turn off electronics 30 minutes to an hour before getting into bed. Try practicing nighttime yoga or meditation to relax your mind and body. It will take consistency and patience while your body adjusts to the new sleep schedule, but I bet you will find the new rested you makes healthier choices throughout the day!
The Personality: All or Nothing
Have you started a nutrition or exercise program, strayed a bit off course, and then abandoned the program all together? This ‘all or nothing’ personality can sabotage weight loss efforts; any deviation from the plan will lead to feelings of failure and subsequent giving up. This personality often relies on a very structured plan for weight loss success. While structure can be helpful while losing weight, flexibility is essential for long term weight loss and weight maintenance.
The Strategy: Add flexibility! When you begin your weight loss journey, follow a structured plan while you are getting used to the changes. After a couple weeks, allow yourself to stray a bit from the plan. This may mean experimenting with one or two different meals a week, adding in a night at your favorite restaurant or enjoying a small treat at the Sunday barbeque. Adding flexibility to your plan will allow for continued weight loss while preventing diet burn out that can occur from too much structure.
The Personality: Short Attention Span
Have you ever given up on trying to lose weight after feeling bored with eating the same foods over and over again? Structure is important for weight loss, but that doesn’t mean the foods you eat have to lack variety! Someone with the ‘short attention span’ personality may find they get into a rut of eating the same foods every day that is not only boring, but is also unsustainable. Eating should be an enjoyable experience, and the greater variety of healthy foods you have in your diet, the more likely you are to feel satisfied and find success on your journey to weight loss.
The Strategy: Mix it up! There is no way to get around the fact that structure and planning are necessary components for weight loss. To add variety but keep structure, plan out a week of meals, Sunday-Saturday. Make sure these meals differ from day to day. Now, you have seven days of different meals that will help you stay on track without becoming bored. You can repeat these meals each week, or find new healthy recipes online or in a cookbook to swap with. Getting creative in the kitchen is a great way to stave off boredom while discovering new nutritious snacks and meals.
No matter what your weight loss personality is, the important thing to remember is that the changes you are making are lifestyle changes; they have to be sustainable if you hope to reach long term success. Once you identify your weight loss personality, work with the strategies that are tailored to you and your lifestyle (a registered dietitian can help you do this!).
Which personality do you identify with? Do you have a different weight loss personality that was not mentioned?