Is Packing Your Child’s Lunch a Healthier Option?
Packing your child’s lunch doesn’t always turn out as you imagine. Your child has food preferences and sometimes arguments occur regarding what you think they should and should not be eating or drinking.
Having your child purchase the school lunch may not be the solution. Compromising is something that has to be done between you and your child. Of course, we can look to Choose My Plate (www.choosemyplate.org) for guidance concerning what our meals should look like, but it doesn’t always turn out this way.
If you can’t fit every food group into a meal, aim to have a minimum of three food groups present. Continue to work on portion control, variety and balance. At the same time, try to limit the sugary beverages and high calorie, high sugar snacks.
The minimum recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, needed on a daily basis for children, are 5 servings a day. Many adults are not consuming this, so can you imagine how much (or how little) our children are eating?
Get your child involved in meal selections and preparation. Encourage them to pick a new fruit or vegetable to try and a new recipe to prepare.
- Tuna salad made with celery and light mayo + 1 bag baked chips or popped popcorn + 1 sliced orange + water
- Cheese stick + 6 whole grain crackers + 15 grapes + 5-10 baby carrots + 1 tbsp. reduced fat ranch dressing
- Lettuce wraps + chicken salad made with pecans and grapes + 1 c watermelon + low-fat yogurt
- Peanut butter and banana wrap/roll-up + sliced apple + low-fat yogurt + water
- Homemade soup + _ turkey sandwich on white wheat bread + graham crackers + low-fat milk
Allow your child to be creative when trying new foods and recipes. New cooking and preparation methods allow them to be more interested and involved in the meal planning process.
Meal time should not be about arguments. Your child’s taste of certain foods will change over time. Keep introducing new foods. It takes a minimum of 15 tastes of one new food to know if you like it or not. Think of different ways to prepare and present them into your meals.
Christina Bartlett RD, LD is a Registered Dietitian and the owner of Everything In Moderation. Dedicated to providing nutrition information that is tailored to the individual.
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This post originally appeared on our September/October 2014 Magazine