School is already in session and while the teaching has already begun, so have the school lunches. Making sure your child has a healthy lunch every day is important for their health and focus in school. To ensure your child is eating a fresh, hearty lunch, get into a routine of packing a lunch with them. Together, you can choose what healthy foods to include so they get their needed amount of nutrition.
Arizona’s Phoenix Children’s Hospital Pediatric Dietician Shannon Kent has given advice on how to make packing lunches easier while teaching your child healthy choices.
Share the work
Having your child choose what they pack in their lunch, not only lets them have the choice of choosing, but, “Enlists kids to help in packing their lunches,” Kent said. While you both work out a schedule on what time at night to pack lunch, it will save time in the mornings. Having them pick out what they want in their lunch also lets you show them what’s important for them to eat.
Make a list
Kent said you should ask your child what fruits, veggies and proteins they want to eat. “Doing this not only involves them in the process of choosing healthy foods, but may also get them to try new fruits and veggies when they get bored,” Kent said. Making a grocery list together ensures only buying foods that both of you will eat.
Appropriate for appetite
When helping your child pack their lunch, make sure portion control is still in the process to prevent overeating and obesity in children. Asking your child how much they usually eat during lunch will help give you an idea of how much they should be packing. “Protein should be the size of their palm, while fruits, veggies, proteins and grain portions, the size of their fist,” Kent said.
Remember the water
Make sure to include water, somehow, in your child’s lunch. Sometimes children aren’t too excited about just drinking water, but it will keep them hydrated and alert. Adding half a cup of water to their juice may help, that way they get a sweet taste but are still drinking water.
Treats and other fun foods
It is OK to pack a treat into your child’s lunch, but make sure it doesn’t become a daily item for them. Monitoring chips, candy and cookie intake in your child’s lunch may help you realize exactly how much of that they are eating and how much money you’re spending on those treats. One, even two, treats won’t hurt them, but restraining from giving them a treat every day can only be helpful to your child.