I wrote an article last year talking about how to create for your kids. Since making lunches is often on a lot of people’s mind right now, I thought I would reinforce some of the key components of a healthy lunch.
Start with water. In general, children don’t drink enough water during the day in comparison with how much fluid the body uses during an academic day. If they don’t drink water at lunch time, they are really depriving their brain and body, which can lead to sluggish learning. Avoid sugary drinks like soda and artificially flavored juice drinks. Loading your kids up with sugar drinks just sets them up for a sugar rush, followed by a sugar crash.
Once you get the water going, think about the main staple of the lunch. For most kids that is some kind of sandwich. Whole grain bread is best. I know my daughter doesn’t really like whole grain bread; she likes potato bread the best. Just to compromise, I use one slice of potato and one slice of whole grain and when she eats it she puts the potato side up and doesn’t even notice the whole grain. Try to include a protein of some kind, whether that’s peanut butter or deli meat and get the veggies in where you can.
The hardest part for me as a parent is the supplemental parts of my daughter’s lunch. I am not going to send her with chips and cookies, but I get frustrated with the minimal “healthy snack” options for kids. There are two rows of chips, cookies, crackers, soda and candy devoted at the grocery story, and a half an aisle of packaged healthy snacks. I would suggest hitting up some alternative stores like , Trader Joe’s, and Jimbos for a larger selection of healthy granola bars, apple sauce, dried fruit and nuts.
Now, I don’t think that kids need to go without a little sweet treat in their lunch. Besides, they are kids. However, look for treats that are lower in sugar and fat. If you can, send homemade treats instead of store bought cookies; that way you know what ingredients are in them. Betty Crocker homemade oatmeal raisin cookies are a hit at my house.
Parents, the bottom line is your kids will eat what you provide for them. Choose wisely and select foods that will foster a lifestyle of health for your children.