Health Team

Healthy Eating for Families.

Posted September 5, 2013

One of the most polarizing nutritional topics is healthy meals in schools. However, everyone can agree that the health and welfare of our kids is vitally important. Remember, healthy meals at lunchtime help provide energy to the brain, so your children are able to maintain focus and learn more during the school day. In fact, according to Time magazine, "a study published in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago show how important school lunches can be in helping children to maintain healthy weights." If you are packing lunch for a young student, here are some tips and pointers for making lunchtime a success.

Start off with fresh ingredients
If you want to send your child to school with a meal they won't throw away or trade for a slice of pizza, you have to make certain that lunch is nutritious and delicious. That means you should begin with quality ingredients. Not only are fresh ingredients better for your child, they taste better too.

Include fruits and vegetables
If you think your children aren't fans of fruits and veggies, perhaps you just haven't tried the right options. Consider alternatives to potato chips like sliced apples, sweet potato chips, and carrot chips. If you find them in 100% fruit juice, fruit cups can be a healthy snack. Don't forget about dried fruit.
Speaking of dried fruit, why not pack some trail mix? Trail mix is a sneaky way to give your kid healthy superfoods like sunflower seeds (Vitamin E), pumpkin seeds (iron), raisins (potassium), nuts (vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids), and chocolate (fiber, antioxidants).
You can even send your kid to school with a salad that won't get soggy! How? Grab a Mason jar and use it as a container for a simple salad. The jar will help keep ingredients separate until it's time to eat. Just layer the salad-dressing on the bottom, then firmer vegetables, then place lighter, more fragile ingredients towards the top. When it's time for lunch, you can dump everything into a bowl and toss gently. Viola!

Think outside the box
Think outside of the bag for that matter too. Many of the common lunchbox fillers are bad for children. Instead of a bag of chips or a box of cookies, try to incorporate healthy alternatives. Pack baby carrots, celery sticks and ranch dip with peanut butter for a quick snack. Consider tuna fish, granola bars and even yogurt. Yogurt has plenty of potassium and calcium, but when you top it with whole grain cereals and fruits, it has the added benefit of extra nutrients and healthy whole grains.
Healthy eating for families doesn't always take place at home around the kitchen table. Invest some time in selecting and preparing healthy school lunches. Explain the value of nutrition and health and wellness to your children. And remember, you're laying the foundation for them to acquire healthy habits. Eating healthier may start at home, but with these tips, kids can eat healthy at school too.

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