The new school year is in full swing in a virtual kind of way. Instead of limiting screen time, we now have a situation requiring kids and teens to stare at a computer for hours a day. Here are some tips for helping them stay focused and energized throughout their virtual school day.
Food is Fuel
Start the virtual day with the right kind of breakfast.
Go for eggs or whole grain toast with a thick spread of peanut butter. If a drinkable breakfast is preferred try blending full fat Greek yogurt, raw almonds or silken tofu, with frozen fruit and a splash of milk or plant milk alternative for a protein packed smoothie. These types of breakfast meals help carry kids through the long morning so they can stay focused on their work. Steer away from sugary cereals, toaster pastries and breakfast cookies. After the sugar rush fades, kids will likely feel tired and unmotivated to sit through another virtual class.
Break for lunch
When the lunch break arrives, it is time to turn OFF the computer and re-fuel for the afternoon ahead. If sandwiches are the lunch of choice, top them off with veggies (by adding spinach, lettuce, tomato, sliced cucumber, bell peppers, etc.). PBJ’s are great when paired with crispy carrots and dip. Fresh fruit adds a sweet finish to a sandwich meal. A bag of chips does NOT count as lunch!
Eat a mid -afternoon snack if hungry.
It is normal to feel hungry a few hours following a meal. Reach for real food snacks, not heavily processed treat items such as chips, veggie straws, gummy fruits or snack cakes.
Real Food Snacks to Try:
Fruit plus cheese
Trail mix that is mostly nuts and seeds
Apple slices or celery with peanut butter
Carrots with hummus
Tuna salad with a few whole grain crackers
Other Important Ways to Survive (and Thrive) in Virtual Learning:
Even five minutes of physical activity can have an amazing effect on how we feel. Encourage your child or teen to use the breaks from virtual classes to dance, stretch, go up and down stairs, hula- hoop or really anything to get moving. The results are immediate! Kids (and adults) are more attentive and have improved stress levels following brief periods of physical activity.
Staring for too long at a computer screen is hard on the eyes. The American Academy of Ophthalmology supports the “20-20-20” rule to help relax the eyes. This rule suggests taking a 20 second break every 20 minutes to focus on an object 20 feet away (example: focus on a tree outside the window for 20 seconds).
Written by Jenny Favret, MS, RD, LDN
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