Getting your child to eat “healthy” can be a challenge. TV ads promoting high sugar, high fat, and convenience snacks and foods, the lure of Dunkin’ Donuts or McDonalds, and bad food habits of friends can all spoil your best efforts to provide healthy school lunches and snacks. So how can you get your kids “hooked” on good nutrition when it comes to school lunches? Consider these tips when packing a healthy lunch:
- Open their world through variety: Make sandwiches on different types of breads or grain products every day. Whole-grains provide necessary nutrients and fiber for growing bodies. Try whole white or wheat, multi-grain, or flax breads. Bagels, fajita wraps, or pita pockets can also be used for sandwiches instead of “plain” bread.
- Avoid processed lunch meats, using turkey, chicken, roast beef, and low-fat cheeses instead. Peanut butter is also an excellent source of protein – try adding sliced banana instead of jelly to sandwiches.
- Use leftovers as meals: Pack a favorite meal in a microwavable container or use chicken to make chicken salad.
- Have your child plan and make their own lunches: Help them plan their lunch. Then provide all the fixings (chop up lettuce and tomato; have pickles on hand, etc.) so that fixing their lunch is easy and quick.
- Pack low-fat yogurt or hummus to use as a dip with vegetables.
- Pack fresh fruits, fruit packed in it’s own juices, or snack size low-fat yogurts as dessert, instead of cookies or brownies.
- Make a healthy trail mix of peanuts, almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds, and dried fruits. If your child needs to prevent weight gain, limit portion size to about ¼ cup.
- Provide tetra packs of low-fat milk or 100% juices and water instead of soda, punch, or fruit drinks. Discourage sport drink use unless they train hard on a sports team. These drinks are high in sugar and popular because they are “cool”.