Kids and Parents Need to Gear Up for Healthier School Year Eating

Kids and Parents Need to Gear Up for Healthier School Year Eating

Kids sample veggies during lunch at their school in Arlington, Va. Public domain image from the USDA.

Kids sample veggies during lunch at their school in Arlington, Va. Public domain image from the USDA.

Summertime is often the easy time when kids and their parents alike take a laid back attitude towards snacks over the summer, it becomes time for them to switch gears and return to healthful eating for the school year.

With easy access to the fridge, ice cream and maybe other tempting treats, kids need to discipline themselves as they return to the routine of lunching at school, and potentially breakfast.

One of the first steps parents should take, in tandem with healthier eating, is to start re-acclimating children to their school schedule. Kids who stay up late tend to have more difficulties with their metabolism, which in turn can lead to weight issues. It’s an important part of their health and development to have plenty of sleep.

From there, parents can help their child stay healthier by packing nutritious lunches for them. One doesn’t always know what a child will be eating when they hit the cafeteria line, especially if there are a la carte selections to choose from. When a parent packs their child his or her lunch, that’s when they can select the most healthful items.

Parents should also involve the children in the process, whether it’s the kids joining in for shopping and/or even helping to pack lunches.

What are some examples of healthy main courses a child can bring?

How about a sandwich with tuna? Or chicken salad? Or sliced turkey? The best bet if one opts for cold cuts is the all-natural varieties without nitrites or other preservatives and used the store-baked types. Whole wheat bread can be another way to make sandwiches healthy.

Since veggies can be tricky to give kids, giving them a palatable type of lettuce like Boston lettuce can be a delicious and a “good for you” way to have a serving of vegetables during their day, within their sandwich.

A parent can also make the sandwich fun for their children by slicing it with a cookie cutter to create fun shapes, which also makes it appealing.

What are some examples of great sides to go along with a sandwich? How about carrot sticks, sliced cucumbers or slices of celery with a side of dressing? Or sliced apples? Or even a banana? Or how about a container of low-fat yogurt? It doesn’t have to be complex to be delicious and something a child would love to eat.

Parents can also give their children leftovers from their meal the night before, such as grilled chicken over salad with a side of whole wheat crackers and dressing, as long as there’s an ice pack in there to keep the items cool. Or, if a child loves soup, make a healthful soup such as Minestrone (packed with vegetables and appealing tomato flavor) and put it in a thermos for them to enjoy heated when it’s lunchtime.

In essence, a child should have some basic food groups, such as a vegetable, protein, fruit, a “treat” (such as the yogurt) and then something to drink. Packing a child bottled water is best for their lunches, though an organic juice like Honest Kids or Apple and Eve are ones that pack easily in their lunch boxes.

 

 

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