It’s the beginning of a new school year and the perfect time to start implementing new, healthier eating habits for you and your family.

First, make sure everyone starts off the day with a healthy breakfast.

“There is a reason people say breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” says Jessica Anderson, RD, LD, with the Texas A&M Health Science Center Coastal Bend Health Education Center. “Eating breakfast boosts energy levels, improves concentration and leads to better food choices throughout the day.”

Mornings can be short on time, but there are a number of quick and easy solutions for a nutritious breakfast.

“Keep a variety of options on hand that can be your ‘go to’ items,” Anderson says. “Instant oatmeal, whole grain cereals, pre-boiled eggs or fresh fruits like bananas and apples all can get you off to a positive start in the morning without requiring a great deal of time or effort.”

Next, think ahead and plan out your lunch the day before so that you aren’t left making bad decisions at the last minute.

In today’s more health conscious society, many of the school lunches served onsite offer children decent meal choices, Anderson says. If packing a lunch for you or your child, make sure to avoid too many sweet treats and instead load up on a variety of items such as veggie sticks, string cheeses, lean proteins and fruit.

“Don’t bore yourself with having the same thing day in and day out,” Anderson says. “Mixing things up can help curve cravings to visit the vending machines later on and provide more opportunities for getting in your daily dose of essential vitamins and nutrients.”

The same goes for afternoon snacks; have healthy choices available that satisfy those afternoon munchies. Carrot sticks provide a great crunch, and yogurts offer a sweet alternative.

At the end of the day, try to turn dinnertime into family time.

“Slowing down and taking the time to treat dinner as an event can prove beneficial in so many ways,” Anderson says. “This is a great time to experiment with introducing new food choices and modeling healthy eating habits.”

— Marketing & Communications