With the Summer coming to an end health experts have begun warning parents about some of the unhealthy food routines that go along with school and daycare. Health Day News offered up some helpful reminders that inspired me to think about ways to make my children's lunches fresh and healthy.
- Start the day off right: Research has shown that children who skip breakfast don't do as well in school as students who eat breakfast. A healthy breakfast includes a whole-grain cereal, oatmeal, or bread with a protein. Including whole fruit instead of fruit juice adds more vitamins, minerals, and fiber into the diet. Dairy products are acceptable as long as they're in the form of fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, or cheese.
- Schools are trying harder, not not everything is healthy: While many schools are striving to include healthier items on lunch menus, there are still plenty of unhealthy items such as pizza, nachos, and sweetened drinks.
For some additional reminders and inspiration,
- Plan ahead and pack your kid's lunch: If you're concerned about the cafeteria choices at school, give your child packed lunches that include a type of whole grain, such as bread or tortillas, with a lean protein, such as tuna, turkey, or chicken. Include assortments of fruits and vegetables in various colors and sizes. Healthy beverage choices include water, fat-free or low-fat milk, or 100-percent fruit juice.
- Cook a balanced dinner to make up for daytime treats: At dinner, half of your child's plate should include vegetables and fruit, one-quarter should consist of a lean protein, and one-quarter should contain whole grains, such as brown rice or whole-wheat pasta.
I find packing healthy snacks every day, creating natural treats like frozen grapes and making breakfast a fun family experience keeps my kids healthy and energized. Do you pack your kid's lunch or do they eat it at school or daycare?