Healthy School Lunches

Healthy School Lunches

by Dr. Rebecca Butler
of Lantana Pediatrics

It is important to remind parents that the best lunch is one that your child will eat. Encourage your child to choose items that will power them through the second half of the day, rather than slow them down. Include the major food groups. The foundation for any healthy meal is the five major food groups: fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, and grains. Protein enhances satisfaction from a meal and wards off cravings later in the day. A serving of grains provides the energy the brain needs to stay focused. Fruits and vegetables are important sources vitamins and fiber. Dairy sources provide satisfaction with a bonus of calcium. Minimize milk intake to 8-10 ounces and encourage other sources of calcium.

 

Opt for nutrient-rich foods. Most Americans don’t consume enough of these three essential nutrients. Each has health benefits for growing children, so add these in the lunch box when you can.

Calcium:
Great sources include dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt) and non-dairy foods such as canned fish, dark greens, almonds, apricots, and tofu.

Fiber:
Great sources include beans, lentils, pears, berries, whole grains, beets and broccoli.

Potassium:
Great sources include bananas, baked potatoes, white beans and avocado.

Spice up your sandwich. Sandwiches are a favorite lunch item, but they do not have to be boring and bland. Use whole-grain bread, tortilla wraps, and pitas to add variety. Next, pick your protein: lean deli meats are a go-to option but don’t forget last night’s dinner; sliced grilled chicken, steak, or even an extra burger patty can all be today’s sandwich filler. Don’t forget softer proteins: canned tuna, chopped boiled eggs, and hummus.

Make it bright and appealing. Children often are attracted to bright colors and interesting shapes. Those cookie cutters aren’t just for holiday cookies; repurpose them to create interesting shapes of sandwiches, fruits, and even vegetables. Children often like small items; try baby carrots and grape tomatoes instead of full size.  Always make sure your child drinks plenty of water throughout the day.

 

SNACK IDEAS:

  • Hummus/avocado or nut butter spreads on bread
    or as a dip for fruits/vegetables.
  • Drinkable, low sugar yogurt or kefir as a beverage for
    bone-building calcium, probiotics, and energy.
  • Cream cheese around a pickle spear and wrapped with thin
    deli meat is a convenient and delicious option.

 

 

                                 

940.455.7200 | www.LantanaPediatrics.com74 McMakin Road, Ste. 100 | Bartonville, TX 76226
NEW HOURS: Mon, Tues, Thurs: 7:30am-5pm | Wed: 7:30am – 12:30pm | Fri: 7:30 – 4pm | Sat: 9am – 12pm


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