Eating a variety of healthy foods gives your child the energy he or she needs to learn in school all day as well as to develop and maintain good health. Plus, it is important for children to eat healthy foods in order to keep their immune systems strong so they are able to fend off the endless germ assault they face in school on a daily basis. They are exposed to so much each day from the other children they come in contact with. Many schools have also added Purell dispensers around the buildings in order for children to clean their hands throughout the day as an added precaution. This will kill the germs that make them sick.
Many schools across the country are now jumping onto the health bandwagon and offering healthier choices for lunch while doing away with the sugary sodas and treats that were once readily available. Due to new government regulations, our local high school has adopted adding more vegetables with each lunch and eliminating more of the junk foods that they were selling. These are important measures for the health of our children. With childhood obesity leading to diabetes and other diseases that are striking children earlier and earlier because of poor dietary choices on the rise, we cannot do enough to help our children develop healthy eating habits that will follow them into adulthood.
How can you ensure your child is eating a healthy school meal? Pay attention! A healthy meal for your child consists of a fruit, a lean protein, and a vegetable along with a nutritious drink. Here are some great healthy school lunch ideas:
- non-GMO tofu
- natural peanut butter (without added sugar or hydrogenated oils) or other nut butter (some schools have rules against peanut butter because of allergies – check with your school)
- non vegan options could be lean chicken, tuna fish, lean turkey
- Melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew) are high in potassium and vitamin C. They are crunchy treats that are easy to prepare and include in a lunchbox.
- Think of various fruits that are different colors such as orange, berries, apple slices, or kiwi fruit. And viola! You will have a mouth-watering fruit bowl that is loaded with important nutrients such as fiber and vitamins.
- cucumber slices
- carrots and celery
- squash slices
- slices of broccoli or cauliflower plus a healthy dip
- veggie smoothie
- 100% fruit juice
- fruit smoothie made with soy or nut milk
- soy or almond milk – there are even chocolate varieties that children love!
It takes a real balancing act for a bagged lunch to become a full nutrient package. Recent studies show that children who consume healthy school meals have higher intakes of nutrients – at lunch and during the course of a full day. This is good news, because when children are better nourished, they do better in school. If you are still unsure or your child has food sensitivities or allergies check with a nutritionist for options that will work for your child. It is that important!
From children to parents to teachers, all will benefit with a nutritious school lunch.