It's back to school time and for some parents, that's a sigh of relief! Now comes the big question... What are you going to pack for their lunch? Hopefully this article will provide some ways to make their lunch a bit healthier, more fueling and boost their immunity. Chef Pete Ghione shared these tips on the Fox 5 MORE show recently in Las Vegas
1. Let's make this fun and family building exercise. My first tip is to take your kids grocery shopping with you to build healthy school lunch ideas. Select multiple healthy choices for them to choose from for each component of their lunch. Instead of asking them if they want fruit, ask them which fruit they want to choose, between apples and blueberries for example. Otherwise you provide them the opportunity to say "NO".
Focus on Whole Grain breads for sandwiches, lean proteins, colorful vegetables and fresh whole fruits
According to Eric Williamson, Director of Nutrition for Canyon Ranch
"Vegetable and fruit intake is low among children but as they start to approach the teen years it lowers even further. Adolescents have a lower fruit and vegetable intake on average than any other age group. It’s important to keep kids engaged with fruits and veggies to help prevent this drop off"
2. Lead by Example
More like eat by example. Kids will tend to copy what we eat, so as we make good choices with our own food, they will want to share that with us. We also need to make healthful food accessible in the home. I suggest filling your kitchen with purposeful ingredients and snacks to make sure when you reach for something when you're hungry, that you land on something beneficial
3. Have your kids help you make their own lunch
Empowering your children to feed themselves will give them life long skills to continue their healthful eating long after they move out to college and start their careers. It becomes their normal. Instead of using terms about health, you can refer to good food as "Strong Food" to make it more relatable. Avoid letting them feel like they are using their freedom to choose what to eat. They will likely resist your suggestions if they are feel forced to eat a certain way.
4. The Ratio of Foods
A good ratio to provide proper fuel for energy and growth and to maximize their immunity is this:
25% Proteins like:
Hard Boiled Eggs
Protein is necessary for muscle growth and recovery after a long night of playing sports. This will help them grow "big and strong" as we often tell them
Whole grain or Wheat Bread, try toasting the bread to help them enjoy it
Whole grain pasta with added protein like chicken
Steel Cut Oats
Low-Carb diets have become very trendy, but do not fear, carbs are the fuel that drive us. The trick to eating carbs is choosing ones that will absorb slowly. This helps energy last longer and more technically speaking, helps prevent high blood glucose spikes that cause insulin resistance, weight gain and may lead to many other diseases like diabetes. When it comes to children, we can say that it will help fuel their performance all game long instead of starting strong and crashing by half time
Must Add Vegetables
At least 50% of our meals should include fruits and vegetables
Add lettuce to their sandwich
Sliced cucumbers make good chips
Carrots tend to be sweeter and crunchy
I say to avoid tomatoes, especially on a sandwich, they get soggy and are typically ripened off the vine so they don't develop a true tomato flavor which can cause a poor relationship with this fruit that most consider a vegetable
Fruits also provide healthy energy, fiber and immunity benefits. The ones below are lower on the glycemic index to prevent that quick spike in blood sugar followed by the dreadful crash
I chose a few that don't have to be cut or peeled to enjoy. Make sure to wash all of your raw fruits and vegetables, even if they are organic.
has a few last words of advice on building a healthy relationship with food
"Be careful how you talk about food and your body in front of children. Remember, children are more likely to copy than they are to implement what you tell or try to teach them. They are very impressionable at this age and there is lots of research demonstrating that talking about foods as good or bad, restricting food as punishment or only providing delicious foods as a reward, pinching body fat in front of children or talking about how you can’t touch a certain food because it will cause you to gain weight can lead to very poor relationships with food. In fact, these types of parenting are associated with children having disordered eating, poorer diet quality as well as obesity and other health conditions in their adulthood."