This year, why not kick off the school year by teaching your kids healthy habits for their bodies, brains, bank accounts and the environment?

Being physically and mentally fit enhances children's academic performance, improves self-confidence and self-esteem. Staying physically and mentally fit is just as important as learning the ABCs and the 123s.

It's not optional, kids need exercise! Despite decades upon decades of research, only one in there American kids gets the recommended one hour of daily exercise.

American children now spend more than seven and a half hours a day in front of a screen (T.V., video games, computer), according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Seven and a half hours a day! That's not only crazy, it's tragic. Why are we as a nation depriving so many of our children the daily exercise their young bodies and minds so desperately crave? No wonder we have so many behavior and attention problems with many students.  The kids are literally stir crazy.

I, for one, wish our schools would simply implement yoga into the physical education curriculum. Yoga can be taught to children of all ages, doesn't require any special equipment, and yoga postures can be modified regardless of age, size, and gender.

All of the evidence unequivocally supports that daily exercise for kids provides significant benefits to their bodies and their brains. Period.

Brain foods = Smarter Kids. Nourishing your child's developing brain with the right foods will also promote better health and a smarter brain. Your child's brain is a fuel hog, and it demands a continuous supply of glucose.  Consuming a diet rich in complex carbohydrates — for example, good old fashioned 100 percet rolled oats — will provide your child with the slow and steady energy release needed by the brain.

Also, eating a brain healthy diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish, primarily), protein, monounsaturated fats (think avocados), vegetables and fruit, will also help pump up your child's brain fitness.

Teach them how to cook and save money, too. And while we're on the subject of planting healthy behaviors in our children, let's teach them how to food shop and cook their meals too.  The supermarket is full of teachable moments from picking a just-ripe avocado, estimating the amount spent, and teaching the value of a buck.

Teaching kids how to cook is another great way to empower them, bond with them, and teach healthy habits.  Naturally, kids who learn how to cook become more self-sufficient, more curious about foods, and more likely to become health conscious adults.

School lunch vs. packed lunch. Pack your own! School lunches are notoriously bad. But if you do pack, be sure to pack a healthier school lunch.

First and foremost, packing your child's lunch gives you more control over what your child is eating. Also by packing lunches, you'll be teaching your child about time management, how to save lunch money, and how to save the environment. Just think about all of the trash you won't be creating by simply packing lunch, and especially so, if you invest in reusable containers, reusable stainless steel water bottles, use bamboo or stainless steel utensils, and use cloth napkins.

This year, (if you're not already doing so), I urge parents, policy-makers, and teachers to boost our kids body and brain fitness by teaching exercise and healthy eating every day!