Teaching good eating habits now with healthy school lunches sets the stage for healthy eating into adulthood.
It’s hard to believe that Middle Tennessee students are already starting another school year. For many parents, weekday mornings include packing lunches for their children. As you pack your child’s school lunches, make sure they include a protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Sweets and fats should be kept to a minimum.
Here’s how to pack a healthy lunch for school:
- Switch to whole grains, which contain more nutrients than refined grains.
- A healthy lunch contains at least three food groups. Anything else is a bonus.
- Sneak veggies into a sandwich by adding spinach, avocado or carrots.
- Liven it up with hummus, ranch, yogurt or peanut butter for dipping fruits and vegetables.
- Keep it fresh: Fresh fruits and veggies are preferable to canned or jarred.
- Avoid sugary drinks such as sodas, sports drinks and flavored milks.
- Make sweets a special treat, not an everyday indulgence.
- Be mindful of portion sizes.
Martha Upchurch, a Vanderbilt registered dietitian, reminds parents that healthier eating habits have well-documented health benefits such as helping to prevent obesity and other diseases, but healthier eating habits also help to fuel children’s brains for academics and their bodies for athletic performance. It also promotes healthy skin and body weight.
She also added that by teaching children healthy eating habits when they are young, the stage is set for a healthy teenage and adult life. Children do discover they love certain healthy foods. After this realization, children are more likely to make smart choices when a parent is not present.
What healthy foods do you include in your child’s lunch?