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Helping our kids back to school – Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of our recommendations for supporting our children’s health as they return to school over the next couple of weeks and beyond, into the autumn and winter months.

This article will focus on ideas for healthy meal options to support our children both physically and mentally throughout the day. The recommendations are based on the principles we wrote about in part 1 of this series (healthy food, hydration, exercise, time outdoors, sleep and good gut health) and include links to previous blogs that we have published with ideas for healthy breakfasts, lunches and snacks.


Ensure your children start the day with a healthy, filling breakfast that combines complex carbohydrates with some protein and fat. This will help to ensure that your child stays full until lunchtime (or morning break if they have a snack then) and do not experience and energy slump within an hour or so. This is important for children of all ages, as small children can meltdown mid-morning if they have not eaten a nutritious breakfast, and older children can be inclined to skip breakfast, preferring to get out of bed at the last minute, but are then starving (and unable to concentrate) by mid-morning.

It can be a challenge to get children to eat in the morning due to time constraints and lack of options, so having a list of different breakfast ideas can help. You can find some nutritious breakfast ideas here and it is useful to note that breakfast doesn’t need to be huge – that will depend upon your child’s appetite. Full fat plain live yoghurt with some berries might be enough for some children, whilst others might require a full cooked breakfast of eggs, sausages, bacon and tomatoes. It can be useful to have some high protein, high energy snack bars/balls on hand for those mornings where you are running late – these can be home-made or shop-bought and some good brands include Deliciously Ella and Bounce.

Other ideas include overnight oats (which are prepared the night before, so help with speed in the mornings), porridge made with full-fat milk, boiled eggs and soldiers, poached eggs on toast, seeded or sourdough toast and nut butter. Add in some fruit and/or vegetables where you can – cherry tomatoes, berries, chunks of apple, sliced banana – and add nuts and/or seeds to increase the protein and fat content. Avoid sugary cereals, white bread, processed jams and sugar-laden cereal bars if possible.


Some schools no longer provide hot lunches and children are required to take in their own lunch from home – and some children just prefer to eat food made at home or to have a packed lunch as this is what their friends are eating. The same principles apply here – it can be tempting and easy to give your child the same sandwich with crisps and a chocolate bar every day, but the best way to support their energy and brain health is to include complex carbs with protein and fats. 

For young children, it is often easier to include a range of options in smaller portions that can easily be eaten using their hands – including fruit chunks or berries, sliced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, mini sandwiches, small pieces of chicken, ham, boiled or , scotch eggs, satay chicken, olives, cheese blocks, sliced pitta and hummus. Bento boxes are great for packing this type of lunch as they have different compartments of varying shapes and sizes to fit a medley of different foods to suit your individual child’s taste – there are all sorts of options available in plastic, stainless steel and bamboo, stacking and stand-alone, and they can be packed really quickly in the morning or the night before

Teenagers can be more difficult as peer pressure plays a big part in what they will eat – giving them a wrap or pitta with the healthiest fillings they will accept is one of the easiest options here and try to vary it each day – some ideas include ham and tomato, chicken and salad, chicken tikka with some hidden veg, tuna and sweetcorn, tinned salmon and cucumber. You might also be able to find a shop bought protein bar that they like (try Nakd or Eat Natural – although be aware of any nut restrictions in the school) or include a healthy home-made muffin or some fruit.

You can find more information on healthy lunch box options in our previous article here.

If hot meals are still available at your child’s school, encourage them to choose some vegetables, salad and healthier options – you could include discussion around how eating these foods will help give them more energy and be less likely to get sleepy or hungry through their afternoon classes.

Don’t forget to encourage your child to drink lots throughout the day. This is vitally important, particularly to support concentration, and can easily be forgotten, and possibly avoided if children don’t want to have to ask to go to the toilet in lessons – and unfortunately, teachers are not always on top of reminding children of the need to remain hydrated.


It can be useful to provide snacks for older children who are more likely to be able to eat when they are hungry. Again, it can be a challenge to find things they will eat, but high protein bars, fruit and wraps are usually acceptable options – you may find that teens prefer to eat at morning break as they are hungry by then, particularly if they have not eaten much for breakfast.

Younger children are less likely to have a chance to eat snacks, although many schools do have a fruit break. It may be that an additional snack can be eaten at this point in the day (again, add in some protein and/or fat if possible) – you may need to speak with the school about this if you feel that it will be of particular benefit to your child’s mood and concentration levels.

If your children are not able to eat an additional snack during the day (or even if they are), be sure to have one ready when you pick them up at the end of the day to help alleviate any after-school slumps – this is particularly important for young children who can be inclined to ‘meltdown’ as they feel the relief of leaving the rules of the school day behind them, but can also help older children who may not have wanted to eat in front of peers or who have had ‘a bad day’! Again, make sure this includes all three macronutrient food groups – complex carbohydrates, protein and fat – to fill them up until dinner and support their dip in mood at this time of day. You can find a list of healthy snack ideas here.


Eating together as a family in the evening can help to encourage children of all ages to eat a broader range of foods, prepare them for a good night’s sleep and ensure they don’t wake up hungry in the night or early the next morning. Again, balancing macro- and micro-nutrients is key and this can also be the time to top up their vegetable intake for the day.

Want to know more?

ProVen Probiotics aim to provide the best support for both you and your health. If you wish to know more about gut health and staying healthy please do not hesitate to call us on 01639 825107 or alternatively, learn more via our blogs or in-depth ProVen research.

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