Lunch is an important part of each person’s day. It is a time to refuel energy for the remainder of the school or workday, but many children go to school with lunches that are missing fruits and vegetables. Many children don’t eat all of the food in their lunch boxes which can cause them to have less energy throughout the day. Here are four ways to make healthy and fun lunches for your student.
1. Packing a lunch that is size appropriate
Every parent wants to make sure that their student has enough to eat but it may be too much. Children have much smaller portion sizes depending on their age and appetite. Websites such as healthychildren.org provide portion sizes that are appropriate based a number of different factors. There are several different lunchboxes that have portion sizes built into the containers. Having these options available can you bring you one step closer to happy, healthy satisfied student.
2. Including the major food groups
Balanced lunches that include the major food groups are essential to helping children thrive at school. If your child is young it may be easier to add different items into their lunch and start the good habits early. Preschool and kindergarten ages children are more easily influenced to change their food preferences which is important when aiming to get children to adopt healthier habits (Farris et.al, 2014). With older children it may be important to get them involved in the shopping and prepping process. Cooking together and finding healthy options that they enjoy making and eating can help develop better habits.
3. Reviewing the school lunch menu
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) has also made an effort to improve the quality of lunches, making sure that students receive the major food groups. They have also made an effort to give students and their families’ affordable options. In each school there should be a menu provided for the different meals for the days of the week. You may find that your student enjoys one or two different days on the school menu. By reviewing the menu of the school options with your student it may be easier to create a plan for days that lunch needs to be packed. This will be a way to make sure your student eats something healthy and enjoyable on a daily basis.
4. Keeping sweets healthy and low in sugar
Everyone enjoys a treat. It is nice to offer children something that is healthy and enjoyable and a little bit sweet to look forward to at lunchtime. Though this is true often times children’s lunches are piled high with unhealthy sugar packed beverages and snacks. Hubbard et.al conducted an observational study of student lunches and found that a typical lunch was a sandwich, snack food and water (2014). Having sweet fruits or fruit snacks can be healthy reward during lunch and snack times. This is an easy way to make sure that your child has one of the major food groups that is also sweet while remaining low in sugar. Students who consume too much sugar over time may be at risk for health problems such as obesity.