Healthy Lunches for Kids

It’s that time of year again. The kids are at school again and that means you are back on lunch-packing duty. What you might not realize is how important this job really is. The decisions that you make now in packing your child’s lunch can affect your child’s health and eating habits for life. For example, if you make healthy decisions for your child and pack nutritious foods on a daily basis, your kid is much more likely to habitually continue to eat these foods as he or she grows. More importantly, with every apple chosen over candy and every baggie of celery chosen over bread is teaching your son or daughter valuable lessons about the intricacies of healthy eating and healthy living. A well-nourished child is more likely to stay active, maintain healthy social relationships, and excel in school work. So, as you may be starting to see, the choices

you make as you pack your child’s lunch are of utmost importance. Protecting your child through what they eat is just as important as buckling their seat belts before taking the car for a drive. It can save their life.  So how does one go about making the “right” decisions when packing a growing boy or girl’s lunch?

The hard fact is that you are going to need to give up a little bit of time and a penny or two more in order to meet the standard. Fruits and veggies certainly take more to buy and prepare than a Lunchables pack or a Uncrustables sandwich, but healthy eating doesn’t have to make a dent in your day or your paycheck! In fact, the most vital aspects of healthy lunch-packing decisions do not have to do with costly additions, but rather

with what is NOT included. My most important piece of advice to you and to any person of any age trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle is to drop bread now. Cold turkey. No more bread. This is where I reveal to you that the food pyramid is actually somewhat upside down, or at least lopsided. The pyramid with which children are presented at school is actually a poor representation of what healthy eating looks like. In reality, the entire bottom and largest section, grains (bread, cereal, rice, pasta), can be sheared off with only good

consequences as results. The common concern about this is that people wonder where they will get their carbs. What many don’t know, is that carbs are not only found in bread and other grains. Vegetables have carbs! Legumes, roots, and some fruits do too! Grain foods such as cereal, bread, and pasta are entirely unnecessary in terms of nutrition, and their reduction or absence (ideally) can cause amazing results physically, mentally, and aesthetically. One middle ground is to include brown rice in your child’s diet along with a heavy dose of their favorite vegetables prepared in a manner which they enjoy. Easy peasy!  With bread out of the picture, lunch becomes much more simple. Options such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and leftover spaghetti get thrown out the window, so you are left with less processed options. In my family, we prepare some sort of meat at the beginning of the week to be prepared in different ways for

lunches. This, either mixed into a salad or a soup or even a whole-wheat sandwich or wrap makes a perfect lunch which is filling, nutritious, and quick to gather on mornings where the alarm clock doesn’t go off! The presence of such a protein is extremely important in a child’s development. For those who wish to take the vegetarian or vegan option, beans and tofu provide somewhat similar protein supplements, but beware of what the meat-replacement products are made of and make sure that your child gets enough protein! Pair your protein with some easy-to-pack veggies such as mini bell peppers, or cut up some mixed vegetables (celery, cucumber, carrots) at the beginning of the week as well. Toss in a fruit (preferably not-tropical because of the high sugar count) of their choice for a sweet treat and some “snack” items such as real cheese, nuts, dried fruit, and greek yogurt. Avoid name brand items such as Danimals, Yoplait, and any sort of bottled drink aside from water. Nothing that is made in the microwave is good for your kid, I can almost guarantee it. If you feel that all of this takes too long and you cannot find the time in your morning to make this sort of lunch, try pre-packing portions in tupperware containers at the beginning of the week. Be a good influence on your child. Save them the trouble of body-image issues and painful future attempts at weight loss and show them you care through the decisions you make today. Call today at (619) 481-4651 or stop by the office to consult with Dr. Christine Eros about her weight  loss, dieting and nutrition programs or for more information about how to start your kid on the track towards a healthy life!