10 tips on packing healthy lunches for kids
August 9, 2011
By: Lauren Yanks, Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal
As children return to school, it’s important to make sure they’re eating well.
Here are 10 tips from health experts to help with back-to-school nutrition:
When packing sandwiches for lunch, make sure to use whole-grain breads or rolls. “Whenever possible, one should use grain breads,” said Vicki Koenig, a certified dietitian-nutritionist in New Paltz, N.Y. “It’s more nutritious and has more vitamins and minerals than white breads.”
Go for baked or broiled chicken or turkey breast to fill those sandwiches. “Avoid high-fat, high-sodium deli meats like pastrami, ham and beef,” Koenig said.
Try substituting yogurt as a condiment for high-fat spreads such as mayonnaise and sour cream. “You can do a lot with yogurt as a condiment,” Koenig said. “You can mix it with salsa, which is really good with turkey breast. Yogurt is much lower in fat than the usual condiments, and has some protein.”
Have vegetables and fruits ready as after-school snacks, and avoid fast food. Buy organic and local whenever possible. “A lot of people are gaining weight in this economic downturn,” Koenig said. “People are stressed, but cheap food is not always best for you.”
Keep those leftovers from the night before. “If you cook a homemade dinner, make sure to store some away for your child’s lunch the next day,” said Rise Finkle, a naturopath and licensed acupuncturist in Stone Ridge, N.Y. “They’ve got insulated thermos containers now that can keep food warm for many hours.”
Try almond butter instead of peanut butter. “Almond butter is much healthier than peanut butter because peanuts have mold on them and they’re a high-allergy food,” Finkle said. “And almond butter has good protein.”
Avoid high-sugar cereals at breakfast. “Cereals in the natural food stores are better because they’re mostly juice-sweetened cereals,” Finkle said. “Although the best thing for breakfast is eggs and whole-wheat toast.”
Enjoy some protein in every meal. “Protein in every meal helps to keep the blood sugar stay steady, so there won’t be any dips,” Finkle said.
Avoid juice boxes and encourage your children to drink more water. “Juice boxes — even natural ones — are high in sugar,” Finkle said. “Instead, try a glass of water or seltzer with a splash of juice. And get your children used to drinking water while they’re young.”
Practice good nutrition yourself. “The best way for a child to develop good nutritional habits is for you, as an adult, to live a healthy lifestyle,” Koenig said. “Children learn by association.”
“My son is allergic to peanuts, egg and milk. It is very difficult to find delicious SAFE foods for him. I am so happy you have a peanut free facility!” — Betsy