It’s that time of year again, summer is ending and school is just around the corner. Parents prepare their children for the start of the school year by purchasing new school uniforms, new school supplies, and helping to finish all the school summer projects. What parents may fail to adequately prepare is healthy school lunches. As you prepare your child for the school year, do not neglect their nutrition. A healthy mind stems from a healthy body and a healthy diet.
A healthy diet includes all three nutrient classes: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. All three nutrients make the body healthy and strong. A proper diet is essential in children, as they need these nutrients in order to grow strong, both physically and mentally. A carbohydrate is the body’s energy source. Good carbohydrates to include in your child’s lunch are: fruits, vegetables, whole grain bread products, and low-fat dairy products. Try to avoid empty, unhealthy carbohydrates, such as: chips, cookies, crackers, and sweets. Protein is important in normal growth and development. It helps children develop strong muscles. Good protein sources include: beans, nuts, turkey, ham, and peanut butter. Lastly, healthy fats are important in your child’s development. Healthy fats include: salad dressings, such as Italian dressing and low-fat Ranch dressing as a nice side to dip their carrots or celery in.
Just because your child needs a healthy lunch, does not mean it needs to be boring. A few tips to encourage your child to eat their healthy lunch include:
- Include a low-fat dip, such as peanut butter or low-fat ranch with the vegetables (carrots, celery) so that your kids enjoy the taste more.
- Instead of a sweet dessert, include a low-fat yogurt, Jell-O, or fruit choice, as these are sweet and healthy substitutes.
- Instead of including regular potato chips, use baked chips or pretzels as a healthier alternative.
- When preparing sandwiches, use whole-grain bread instead of white bread. Go easy on the mayonnaise.
- As for drinks, include low-fat milk or water frequently. Use juice or soda sparingly. These are full of sugar and empty calories.