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Back to School: Packing a Healthy Lunchbox
The term “back to school” can be music to a mother’s ears but thinking about packing a healthy lunch that her child will actually eat can be a nightmare. Breakfast might be the most important meal of the day, but lunch runs a close second. Studies have shown that children who eat a well-balanced lunch often do better in school and are more alert. While it can be difficult enough to get your child to eat right when you are there, the temptations of pizza and vending machines in the cafeteria make it challenging to get your child to eat what you’ve packed.
First of all, remember that it’s not your lunch. Let your child weigh in on what they want to pack in their lunches, and offer them a few healthy options to they feel like they are in control.
- Although you might be tempted by their convenience and kid-friendly sizes, avoid pre-packaged, processed foods. They are expensive and loaded with sodium and preservatives.
- Think outside the lunchbox. Try packing leftovers from last night’s dinner in a thermos.
- There’s no rule that lunch has to include a sandwich, chips, cookie and juice box. Try some deli turkey rolls, raw veggies with a small container of ranch dressing and a handful of grapes. Finger foods are usually a hit with kids.
- Keep in mind the USDA’s Choose MyPlate guidelines to fill your plate (or lunchbox) with half vegetables and fruits.
- Be safe. Pack lunches properly to ensure food safety and freshness. Invest in a reusable ice-pack, a thermos to hold warm foods and a variety of different sized containers. Remind your child to always wash his hands before he eats.
Lisa Streuer RD, LD, CLS
Lisa is a registered, licensed dietitian with the Women, Infant’s and Children (WIC) program, part of the Clermont County General Health District.
As the lead agency for Clermont CAN, the Clermont County General Health District supports local activities that encourage wellness through increased activity and better nutrition.