July 23, 2024
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July 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Back to School…Back to Reality

Dear Coach Gila,

I started writing this letter to you numerous times. Each time I scrapped it and gave up because my tone seemed too desperate. Let’s just say that I love the summer—I love that there is less responsibility, less adulting for me. There is no homework, my kids eat lunch in camp and then a quick thrown together dinner at the swim club. No one complains about the food and everyone’s happy.

To be honest, I’m much more relaxed about what they eat because I know it’s all fun and games and I don’t need to worry about them eating the right types of food to allow them to focus in class.

My children are not on school lunch during the year because they really don’t like it and I know that they need more than plain noodles to power them through their school day.

As August 15th came and went I literally began having anxiety and panic attacks over the thought of having to pack healthy lunches and make dinners for my elementary school aged children. I work full-time and don’t have the luxury of spending hours in the kitchen. Can you please help me?

Feeling Anxious


Dear Feeling Anxious,

I hear you. Take a few deep breaths and know that you can do this. The key to your success will be spending a few hours on the weekend getting yourself organized. What will take a seemingly long time in the beginning will eventually become a streamlined process for you.

This is what I suggest:

  1. Plan your menu for the week in advance. This includes scheduling into your calendar when you are going to plan your menu. Some of my clients enjoy doing this Saturday night and others early Sunday morning. The most important thing is to find a time that works for you. Include breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sit down with your children and get their input as to what they would like to add to the menu. Do this now, before school even begins.
  2. Using your menu as your guide create a shopping list. I suggest writing out the weekly menu on the front side of a 5 x 7 index card and the shopping list on the back. Save these cards and after a few weeks you can begin rotating and reusing your cards. There! You’ve already saved time because now you don’t have to plan your menu or write out your shopping list.
  3. Determine when you will go shopping and schedule it into your calendar as you would with any other appointment. For some, taking the kids shopping and involving them in the process is helpful in terms of getting the kids to eat the food you are buying. For others, bringing the kids with them causes extra stress. Do whatever works best for you!
  4. Schedule time to prep for the week. By cooking a few key items over the weekend you’ll be prepared to make nutrient dense lunches and easy family dinners. This can take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours per prep session.

Let your children assist you in the kitchen. They may make a mess as they work but I promise that it will be worth it in the end. They will feel vested in the process and more likely to eat what they prepared. And in terms of the mess, I believe teaching kids to clean up when they’re finished is an awesome lesson as well.

  1. Don’t aim for perfection. While in theory it’s very nice to have homemade granola, muffins and energy bites in the children’s lunch boxes. It’s not necessary. There are many packaged products on the market today that have healthier ingredients and are timesavers. If you happen to have time over the weekend and want to make a batch of homemade granola, that’s fabulous. If you don’t, that’s OK too!

There will be those weekends where you have absolutely no time to shop or prep. That’s reality and part of life. This is where having a well-stocked pantry and freezer will come to the rescue. I’m so grateful that you reached out to me. The more organized you are, the less time you will need to spend in the kitchen. I’m confident that over time you will feel more in control and less troubled by preparing lunches and dinners. Feel free to reach out with any follow up questions. Good luck to you!

Wishing all of you going back to school a healthy and productive school year!!

Coach Gila

By Gila Guzman

 Coach Gila Guzman, JD CINHC, is now scheduling back to school sessions with busy moms. With the kids heading back to school it is now time to focus on YOU. Are you looking to change your relationship with food, find food freedom, learn healthy habits and end yo-yo dieting? She can be reached at 917-647-1788 or at [email protected]. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram @mainassethealth.


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