More Healthful Lunches

It’s that time of year again!!! With kids off to school they are again faced with the important question: what’s for lunch? With childhood obesity on the rise, having a nutritious lunch is an important part of an overall healthful diet. Since most kids consume one-third of their daily total calories at lunch, here are some tips on helping them eat more super-nutritious foods.

Pack It Yourself
• Plan ahead!! It helps to have all the right ingredients on hand for making the best lunch. You might even consider coming up with a weekly menu. Involve the kids in planning whenever possible.
• Avoid last-minute rushing by preparing all or part of lunch the night before.
• Use cookie cutters to make fun shapes with sandwiches, etc.
• Make sure you always include at least one fresh fruit or vegetable – both is even better!
• Hide special notes or cards in the lunch box.
• Best beverage bets include skim milk, water or 100% fruit juice.
• Try to use more low-fat snack and cookie items – see our list below for ideas.
• Remember food safety. It is best if you keep foods chilled in insulated lunch boxes with either an ice pack or frozen juice box. FMI visit www.fightbac.org.
• For advice on packing school lunches, visit KidsHealth online at www.kidshealth.org.

The School Lunch Line
• Obtain a school lunch menu and help your child make better decisions at home. Emphasize the importance of the basics:
- Eating enough fruits and vegetables
- Choosing items that are low in fat
- Keeping sugary foods as a treat, not a mainstay
- Having a variety of grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat protein and low-fat dairy items each day.
• Practice making better choices everywhere you go so your child is better equipped at the lunch line.
• Don’t like the menu offered at your child’s school? You can do something about it!!! Visit the USDA’s Web site with 10 steps for parents at www.fns.usda.gov. You will also find useful tips at this site.

By Theresa Hennig, MEd, RD

 

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