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As the saying goes, “You are what you eat.” If you want to feel your best, you need to eat good food. With the busy back-to-school season on the horizon, there is no better time than now to figure out what you and your kids can eat when you’re always on the go. This week, our Expert Medical Network chimes in on breakfast, lunch, and food to fuel kids to success this school year.

Why is breakfast so important?
Metabolism. If you skip meals, your body becomes good at ‘holding’ and protecting calories. It doesnt know when the next meal will be. Eating small meals all day keeps metabolism running smoothly.

-Dr. George Valdez

What would be the healthiest food for breakfast?
Breaking the overnight fast is the healthiest point I can make pertinent to this question. Many Americans eat one or two times daily. Why is there so much less obesity in much of the rest of world? Eating breakfast, taking the time to make it a pleasurable “event”, and chewing well (digestion starts in la boca) is part of a healthy lifestyle. Fiber cereal, fruit, milk, cup of good joe.

-Dr. Peter Kurzweil

What can I serve to an overweight child for breakfast?
Breakfast should be protein rich with some carbs and little fat. An egg (75 cal), 2 pieces of low cal toast (35 each), jelly (50 cal), and fruit like orange, melon, peach, pear, or apple or two – aiming for 300 calories. No high-calorie juice. Alternatively, a bowl of high fiber cereal with nonfat milk and a piece of fruit would also be <300 calories. Breakfast is a “jumpstart”; it shouldn’t be heavy.

-Dr. Bennett Werner

Are homemade lunches healthier than Lunchables or school lunches?
If you make it so. The quality of your lunch depends on what you eat. In general, the premade cooler section supermarket lunches are loaded with sugar, trans fats, salt, and have relatively little to offer nutritionally. Packing a healthy lunch at home may take some practice if used to school food or premade supermarket lunches. Your pediatrician can help as can a nutritionist.

-Dr. Vered Lewy-Weiss

What are some good choices to pack for a child’s school lunch?
Make it balanced. You want to include a variety of foods so as to give your child a well balanced meal but also because will likely make them more interested/eat more. Good choices are cut up fruit, veggies with dip (ex: hummus or ranch), cheese sticks, yogurt, sandwiches or crackers with protein–ex: meat or cheese or peanut butter.

-Dr. Sabina Ben-Zion

What healthy food should I look for in school cafeterias?
For starters, avoid oversized portions, highly salted foods, or a lot of fried food. When choosing between tasty junk food or a well-balanced meal with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, & lean meats, then chose the latter. Drink plenty of water and minimize sodas or sugary drinks. Enjoy caffeine in moderation. Balance calorie intake with your level of activity.

-Dr. Charles Cattano

What are some good-tasting, healthy after school snacks for children?
You can make a variety of fruit snacks, serve veggie snacks with a bit of dressing, or have your kids pick out items to make their own granola mixes. Plain air-popped popcorn is always fun as you can add different accent spices on them to keep it healthy.

-Dr. Josephine Ruiz-Healy

Thanks to the compassionate doctors on HealthTap, you should have the information you need to make healthy food choices for you and your children this school year. If you have any more questions, remember that you can always reach out to our team of expert doctors on HealthTap. Let’s kick-start this school year right, starting at the breakfast table.