Monday, July 15, 2013

Box Up a Fun and Healthy Lunch for Kids

A successful lunch includes more than just healthy foods. If your children are not excited about the contents of their lunch boxes, they may end up trading to the highest cookie bidder.

Lunch container with fruit
Fruits of all colors can help add a healthy treat to your child's lunch.

A successful lunch includes more than just healthy foods. If your children are not excited about the contents of their lunch boxes, they may end up trading to the highest cookie bidder. Here are some tips to ensure food ends up in their bellies and not in the trash: 1. Plan an adventure to the grocery store with your child. Encourage your children to participate in the creation process. This can be both fun and educational. It can also renew your child’s interest in the foods put in her lunch box. 2. Teach your children the food groups and give them parent-approved options from which to choose. According to the Healthy Eating Plate from the Harvard School of Public Health, a nutritious meal should contain:

  • Fluids such as water, limited dairy and fruit juice.
  • Healthy oils such as olive oils on salads. Avoid saturated and trans fats.
  • Fruits of all colors.
  • Whole grains such as brown rice, whole-wheat, buckwheat, quinoa. Avoid processed and refined grains like white rice and white bread.
  • Proteins such as vegetable proteins, fish, poultry, beans and nuts. Limit red meat and avoid bacon, cold cuts, and other processed meats.
  • Vegetables: The more variety and amount the better. Avoid potatoes and French fries. They are starchy and offer very little fiber.

3. Peanut butter is out! Recent studies have shown the rate of peanut allergies is steadily increasing. It is now commonplace to find schools forbidding the use of peanut butter to protect those who may be allergic. Try these tree nut/seed alternatives:

  • Hazelnut butter
  • Almond butter
  • Hemp seed butter
  • Macadamia butter
  • Sunflower seed butter

— By Calvin Kwan, ND, naturopathic doctor and resident at Bastyr Center for Natural Health

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