Do you ever send your kids to school and wonder what they actually eat? Kids have access to so many less than nutritious foods during the school day: Whether it’s pizza, French fries, soda or cookies, your children face temptations galore. So how can you ensure they eat well during the day? Here are some strategies I found helpful for encouraging healthy lunch habits.
Pack a lunch your kid will like. Eliminate the guesswork by involving your children in the decision-making process. Ask them what foods they would like to have for lunch, and gently steer them toward healthy options. Include at least one “fun food” in their lunch bags so that other kids don’t harass them. Good fun choices include fresh fruit with natural peanut butter for a dip, low-fat string cheese, 100% juice packs (4-ounce size), and sugar-free gelatin or pudding cups.
Set a good example. We can’t expect our children to eat well if we don’t do the same. Kids will copy what they see, so proper eating habits begin at home. Again, get them involved in the meal planning to educate them about making healthy choices. You can find resourceful cookbooks and kitchen tool for children by visiting www.noelskitchen.com. Kids In The Kitchen Workshops for groups, schools and families are available, if interested please send me an e-mail. I will be happy to send you a list of ideas on what tkitchen tools for kids to purchase, just send me an email, Noel Chapman.
Check up on the school cafeteria. If you don’t have time to pack a lunch and you send your children to school with lunch money, make it a point to find out what they may be eating. Ask your school what types of food they offer in the cafeteria. Most schools will send a monthly lunch calendar home with your children at the end of the previous month or first day of that month. Talk to your school administrator about making changes if the majority of the options are less than desirable.
- Go for whole-grain breads. Keep your cupboards stocked with a variety of whole-grain breads. Whole-wheat sliced bread, whole-wheat pita, whole-grain pumpernickel, and whole-grain tortillas are some family-friendly varieties to choose from.
- Serve salads. Make hearty, family-worthy Cobb or chef-style salads with dark, leafy greens, tomatoes, avocados, turkey bacon, and lean deli meats.
- Consider bean-based soups. Lentil, split pea, and black bean are nutrient-dense, fiber-rich choices that will satisfy the entire family.
Enjoy lean deli meats. Choose lean deli meats like turkey breast, chicken breast, and ham. Make sure you select varieties without added sugars (for instance, avoid honey-baked ham) and serve deli meats with condiments like Dijon mustard and mayonnaise.