What’s for LUNCH? Let’s start thinking differently about how we are feeding our kids!
Are you paying attention to what your kids are eating for lunch? Do you prepare a lunch at home for them to take to school or are they purchasing a meal from their school cafeteria? There are pictures circulating around the internet comparing a school lunch from the USA to other countries. And, the photos are pretty startling. If you think about the average restaurant here in our country and the portions they serve, along with the options available, then you probably won’t be surprised to see what may appear in the lunch line at the school cafeteria.
I would say this is actually pretty typical for an American kid…chicken nuggets with ketchup, along with some potatoes, a green vegetable, fruit cup and let’s not forget the cookie! But, when you compare what kids from other countries are eating you might be surprised to discover the difference in nutrition of what they are eating compared to our kids.
I can’t believe kids from other countries are deprived of a cookie for lunch! (Sarcasm! Sorry, but not sorry!)
Our kids are in school on average for about 7 hours a day, 5 days a week. School requires a lot from our children. A good nutritious meal in the middle of the day is a requirement. Nourishing our students with fresher, greener and more nutrient rich foods will provide them with more focused energy, better growth potential, immune system boosters and mental clarity.
Unfortunately, our food system is dominated by unhealthy, artificially enhanced processed “stuff” and our children are consuming it! Childhood obesity continues to grow rapidly and we are not seeing enough change. This will lead to long term health consequences that will not only shorten their lives but give them a lives dominated by risks, higher health costs and emotional pain. This absolutely breaks my heart.
We have to put a stop to this now. It really is about educating ourselves as parents and our children. If we all pay a little more attention to what we are feeding our kids and the types of foods they have access to when they are not directly in our care, then we can make a difference. We must teach our children about nutrition so they are equipped to make better choices when they are not with us. If you start now with your younger children they will understand and are more likely to choose healthier foods. Sure, it takes a little more planning and preparation, but aren’t our kids worth it? And you are worth it too!
Our kids are in middle school and high school. So, in our home, we prepare lunches. We pack a protein, a carb, a vegetable, a fruit and a snack. My kids know our expectations and we understand that sometimes they want a treat. We include them in the preparation. It’s all in MODERATION. Are their lunches perfect? No, but there is a daily conscious effort to ensure that their lunch is balanced and nutritious.
My kids know that we read ingredient labels. Our rule is if the label has more ingredients than you can count with a glance or if you cannot pronounce any of the ingredients, then Mom and Dad are probably not going to buy it. They enjoy shopping with us and they look to find healthier alternatives that we may agree to try. In fact, sometimes we find items in the cart that we are removing at the checkout line. Yes, they try and sneak some snacky junk in when we aren’t paying attention. And, we do give in every now and then! Not often, but sometimes.
There really are a lot of options out there if you take the time to look or research.
Small changes add up over time. Here are some easy lunchbox swaps you can make to boost the health of your kiddos.
- Instead of chips try adding veggies + hummus or a slice of cheese. veggie + peanut butter (or almond butter)
- Instead of cookies, pack a piece of fruit or protein bar (Have you tried RX Bars? Simply made and delicious. Check them out!)
- Instead of pudding, add yogurt. (maybe add granola too)
- Instead of candy, add some nuts, small pieces of dark chocolate and dried fruit. (healthy trail mix)
- Kids who don’t like sandwiches? Try hard boiled eggs or lunch meat rollups instead. Cottage cheese is a good protein too.
Another idea is to invest in a quality thermos so you can send heated leftovers or soup to school.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to START taking steps in a new direction for better health. Your kids might revolt if you revamped their entire lunch bag overnight. Younger kids, you may have a better shot on changing things up now.
Involve them–get them to choose their healthy swaps for the week! Just remember, those small changes have big health impacts!
Happy Health!! Happy Family!!