Packing Unfortunately, lunch boxes are often filled with packaged ‘convenience’ foods like fruit juice, chips amongst others. This can add up to a lot of excess fat, sugar, sodium and calories that may contribute to long-term health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. These extra calories may also make kids sluggish in the afternoons. When deciding what to put in your child’s lunch box, it is a good idea to include foods from different groups. Focusing on variety not only makes lunches more interesting, but also helps your children enjoy a balanced lunch that will provide the energy and nutrients they need to grow, play, learn and stay healthy.
The basics for a healthy lunch box: Try to include: One serving of vegetables or salad and one serving of fruit
One serving of a low-fat or fat-free milk or dairy item such as a low-fat cheese stick, a yogurt cup, or some cottage cheese.
One serving of meat, chicken, fish, eggs, peanut butter, beans or another protein source.
A healthy drink such as water or 100 per cent juice. Easy, quick ways to pack a balanced healthy lunch with punch!
* Swap the white bread for whole wheat varieties for added boosts of fiber.
* If your kids are bored with the traditional sandwich, try whole wheat pita or flatbread/tortilla wraps that you can quickly turn into sandwich swirls.
* Switch from bologna, salami, pastrami or corned beef, and other fatty luncheon meats to low-fat alternatives such as lean turkey or chicken breast.
* Sneak veggies like lettuce, cucumbers, or shredded cabbage in between slices of lean turkey or ham on a sandwich or in a wrap.
*Use peanut butter in moderation: 2 tablespoons provides about 190 calories and 16 grams of fat.
* Try using a thinner layer of peanut butter and substituting jelly with banana or thin apple slices for a healthier spin on an old favorite.
*Skip high-fat mayonnaise. Consider a small serving of reduced fat mayonnaise or skip it entirely and try using something with more flavor and fewer calories like mustard instead.
Pack a Salad and make it colorful
Healthy Drinks: If you pack juice, make sure it’s 100 per cent juice. All fruit drinks are required to list the “juice” on the label. Many juice drinks contain no more than 10 per cent juice and are mixed with a lot of sugar.
*Water and low-fat milk are the best drinks for children.
*Pack salt-free, dry-roasted almonds, hazelnuts, or walnuts to provide kids with a dose of heart-healthy essential fatty acids—be sure to cap the serving at ¼ cup since nuts are high in calories. Try a lowfat or light yogurt in exchange for the full calorie varieties targeted at children.