Time to Pack Those Lunch Boxes
School cafeterias are notorious for using the word “nutrition” very loosely, when describing a school lunch program. Sadly, most food found at school is loaded with chemicals, additives, refined sugar, artificial dyes and flavors and high sodium. If those “ingredients” were not enough to destroy a child’s attention span, well-being and all-around good health, the schools sell lunches that are deep-fried, wrapped in plastic, and full of unhealthy components.
Teachers and staff members are constantly wondering why the kids cannot focus, why they are so hyperactive, and why can’t they pay attention? I want to say, “hello, your school district just polluted their bodies!” It is so frustrating, especially for children who already have learning difficulties!
So, that being said, it’s time to teach you how to pack your child’s lunchbox so that he or she can have a great day at school, with a healthy mind and body!
Whether a child has special dietary needs or not, he or she needs a healthy, well-balanced, chemical free, nutritious meal.
Thermos’ are a great way to provide a healthy main course. Boil water at home on the stove or in the microwave. When boiled, pour the water into your thermos and close the top. While you are warming the entrée, let the thermos sit. This causes the metal inside to become heated.
Ideas to put into the thermos: leftovers from a meal at home, soup, casseroles, pasta and sauce, macaroni and cheese, beans, lentils, taco meat, sliced meat and gravy, hot dogs in BBQ sauce, meatloaf, Sloppy Joes, chicken and rice, burrito filling, ground meat and noodles or rice, etc.
Heat up the food and then pour out the water and fill the thermos, closing it tightly. Don’t forget to include a spoon or fork in the lunch box. If you have provided a filling, include a taco shell, tortilla, bun, etc in the lunch box.
Sandwiches are another good choice. Opt for whole grain breads with nut butters or nitrite free meats. Other good options are: egg salad, avocado, cheese, spreads, etc.
Be creative and use something other than bread to hold the sandwiches together such as: pancakes, waffles, tortillas, or rice cakes.
Fruits and vegetables are great for kids. Cut them into easy to handle sizes. Try some fruits and vegetables that might be new to them such as kiwi, mango or jicama. Keep introducing different choices, or find what they really like and pack it frequently. Most kids love to dip. Pour a small amount of dressing, or nut butter, into a sealed container to be placed into the lunch box for dipping.
Other healthy choices for side dishes are: seeds, nuts, trail mix, healthy chips, crackers, pretzels, snack bars (look for those with zero artificial ingredients, low in fat, low in sodium and high in fiber). Limit sweets such as brownies, cookies, cake or muffins, unless you prepare them yourself from scratch (or are 100% natural or organic) and can add healthful ingredients such as: flaxseeds, applesauce for the oil, carrots, zucchini, and no added chemicals. Some of these items freeze well, so make a large batch and defrost as needed.
One of the worst things parents often pack for kids are high fructose drinks-that are merely liquid sugar. Water is an excellent choice for a beverage. You can also find individual sized milks and milk alternatives to pack. Some of these are found on the shelves in stores, but should be refrigerated for best flavor. If you feel the need to pack juice, make it a 100% juice, with zero artificial ingredients, with no added sugar. Many 100% juices are sweetened with pear or another type of juice.
Ask your children what they like. Too often food ends up in the trash and parents have no idea that their lunches were never consumed. Meal-plan together, if possible, so that your children eat and enjoy every morsel that is in their lunch box.
By reading labels on the foods you buy, and being cognizant of what you pack for your kids lunches and all meals, you will give them a better chance at advancing in school and achieving higher grades and having better focus, less behavioral issues and developing improved concentration.
We are what we eat. Food DOES make a HUGE difference in our emotional, mental, and physical well-being! Give your children every opportunity to perform at the optimum level that they are capable of exhibiting by providing healthy food choices.
Barrie Silberberg is the author of The Autism & ADHD Diet: A Step-by-Step Guide To Hope and Healing by Living Gluten Free and Casein Free (GFCF) And Others Interventions. Her web site is: www.puttingyourkidsfirst.com
- Do You Struggle With Planning Healthy Meals for Your Family?
- Benefits of Special Diets for Special Needs Children
- Is Packing Your Child’s Lunch a Healthier Option?
- 6 Lunch Box Hacks; Save Time And Effort
- Healthy Ideas for Better School Lunches
- Easy School Lunch Ideas for Busy Parents
- Special Diets at School
- Focus on Color
- 10 Quick & Easy After School Snacks
- Wellness: Breakfast for Champions
- Most Popular Gluten Free/Casein Free Products and Where to Find Them
This post originally appeared on our September/October 2012 Magazine