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Tips for Making School Lunches Balanced and Packed with Nutrients

An apple and a paper bag with lunch. Vintage Style.

It’s hard to believe, but summer is almost over! Before you know it the kids will be heading back-to-school and starting a new school year, complete with parent-approved school lunches. A perfect lunch would include a whole fruit, a veggie, a protein, and a carb. But let’s be honest, who has time to analyze every lunch? Here are some tips to make sure you’re keeping that lunch box balanced and packed with nutrients even on a time crunch:

Mix and Match
You know what foods your kids will eat and what foods will end up in the cafeteria trash can. Try to strike a balance between foods they like and ingredients that are good for them. If your kids are sandwich fanatics make sure you’re using whole grain bread without enriched flour and peanut butter without added sugar. Kids not sandwich fans? Skip the bread altogether and make turkey roll-ups by wrapping cheese and a dollop of their favorite mustard in a slice of turkey.

Remove Temptation
We all know that most children would not choose an apple over a cupcake. Make healthy choices easier for children by keeping your home free of sugary snacks and drinks. You can replace sodas by cutting up fruit into a water bottle to make it naturally sweet. Replace processed snacks with whole fruit and nutrient rich snacks like nuts, sugar snap peas, or edamame to get them used to eating healthy foods. This will ease their transition to eating new foods in their lunch box.

Empower Your Kids
You can spend all the time in the world ridding your home of unhealthy foods and packing the perfect lunch for your kids but once they get to school it’s all out of your hands. They’ll be surrounded by pizza, fries, cake, and soda and it’ll be up to them to make the right choices.
Rather than create strict rules that make school social life challenging on your little one, try setting realistic goals together. Friday can be pizza day or Mondays they get to pick a dessert. Also work with them to find motivation and explain how healthy foods help them excel. Burgers make you sluggish, but a protein-packed chicken sandwich fuels your muscles and can help you run faster at track practice or jump higher in basketball.

Packing your kids’ lunch is one of the best things you can do for them. Even if you think their lunch box isn’t perfect, know that just by sending a lunch you’re already ahead of the game! If you want to make an even bigger impact on kids’ health, talk to your schoolboard about removing unhealthy foods from your school. You have the power to keep your kids happy and healthy.

Eliza Kingsford, MA, LPC, NCC is the Executive Director of Wellspring Camps. Eliza is a Licensed Psychotherapist specializing in weight management, eating disorders and body image. Also a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and long-time athlete, Eliza became passionate about combining therapeutic intervention, nutrition and exercise early on in her graduate studies at the University of Colorado. An experienced speaker and presenter, Eliza has appeared on various television shows (Dr. Phil, Dr. Drew and Dr. Oz), at national conferences and workshops, and in various publications. Eliza is a member of RiverMend Health’s scientific advisory board and serves on various committees for the Obesity Action Coalition.

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One Comment

  1. Food choices are a key factor in obesity. Most parents don’t know how to make healthy food choices for their kids. Actually, on the internet, there are a lot of tips on how to make healthier food choices and perhaps you will learn how to pack your kids’ lunch and what type of food to put in.

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