With the start of a new school year underway, parents and kids are busy shopping for new supplies, school clothing and uniforms and athletic and extracurricular activity equipment. However, one important area to keep top of mind is the importance of healthy eating practices and making sure that your child is receiving a healthy lunch and appropriate snacks at school.
To get your kids in gear for a successful school year, Kidshealth.org suggests the following guidelines when packing or buying school lunch:
1. Choose fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are like hitting the jackpot when it comes to nutrition. They make your plate more colorful and they’re packed with vitamins and fiber. It’s a good idea to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day, so it’s best to aim to fit in one or two at lunch. A serving isn’t a lot. A serving of carrots is ½ cup or about 6 baby carrots. A fruit serving could be one medium orange.
2. Know the facts about fat. Kids need some fat in their diets to stay healthy – it also helps keep you feeling full – but you don’t want to eat too much of it. Fat is found in butter, oils, cheese, nuts and meats. Some higher-fat lunch foods include french fries, hot dogs, cheeseburgers, macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets. Don't worry if you like these foods! No food is bad, but you may want to eat them less often and in smaller portions. Foods that are lower in fat are usually baked or grilled. Some of the best low-fat foods are fruits, vegetables and skim and low-fat milk.
3. Let whole grains reign. "Grains" include breads, cereals, rice and pasta. But as we learn more about good nutrition, it's clear that whole grains are better than refined grains. What's the difference? Brown rice is a whole grain, but white rice is not. Likewise, whole-wheat bread contains whole grains, whereas regular white bread does not.
4. Slurp sensibly. It's not just about what you eat — drinks count, too! Milk has been a favorite lunchtime drink for a long time. If you don't like milk, choose water. Avoid juice drinks and sodas.
5. Balance your lunch. When people talk about balanced meals, they mean meals that include a mix of food groups: some grains, some fruits, some vegetables, some meat or protein foods, and some dairy foods such as milk and cheese. Try to do this with your lunch. If you don't have a variety of foods on your plate, it's probably not balanced. A double order of french fries, for example, would not make for a balanced lunch.
6. Steer clear of packaged snacks. Many schools make salty snacks, candy, and soda available in the cafeteria or in vending machines. It's OK to have these foods once in a while, but they shouldn't be on your lunch menu.
Source: Kidshealth.org -
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