How to pack a healthy lunch for your children

EDUCATING children when they are young on good food choices is one of the best ways you can help them develop healthy-eating habits that would last a lifetime.

This is the advice of Dr Mackenzie Coffin, a pediatrician at Scripps Clinic, Carmel Valley in California.

Lunch time is a critical time for kids in school to get the fuel they need, feed their brains and bodies.

Children need the right foods throughout the day so they can keep learning, growing and achieve their best while in school.

According to Dr Coffin, healthy food will supply the consistent energy they need to last through a school day and also enjoy after school activities.

Here are some tips for packing a healthy school lunch by website www.sripps.org

Make healthy eating a habit at home, when children are used to eating foods from the five groups, they are more willing to eat those same foods for lunch anywhere, including school.

Choose foods with a high content of nutrients (protein, minerals and vitamins.)

Involve children in meal preparation including their lunches- this not only empowers children and promotes a feeling of responsibility, but also makes your child more likely to eat the lunch. Keep the pantry stocked with healthy staples and post a list of ideas on the refrigerator from which kids can choose.

Give kids a choice when packing lunch; ask your child which healthy option they would prefer- such as a banana or strawberries. By giving them a choice, they learn how to compromise and hone their decision making skills.

Mix and match using the five food groups as a guide, toss in whole grain crackers with peanut butter, cut up veggies with hummus. The goal is to have variety, colour and to include three to five of the food groups at each meal.

Turn snack foods into a meal- pack a small serving of cottage cheese with fruit, nuts, dried fruit or trail mix. Include sliced vegetables or even whole grain cereal.

Nix juice and soda as much as kids love drinking soda and juice, water is the best drink for them. Fat-free or one per cent milk is also a good option because it’s packed with calcium and vitamin D juice should be offered in moderation — not every meal.

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