As much as parents would like their children to eat healthy, not all of their meals are eaten at home. Choices of lunch for some children may be limited to what is available in the cafeteria. Preparing lunch boxes may seem time consuming, but it can be beneficial for your child’s health in the long run.
Parents need not to prepare something really fancy in order for the child to eat his meal. Sometimes it helps to let your child be involved in choosing which food items he prefers. You can then work your way on preparing lunches with his preferences. Besides, packed lunches should never be boring in order for your child to like his meals.
It is recommended that a child’s lunch should include foods from at least three food groups. A simple example is a sandwich, fruit and milk. However parents need to explore other food items on the same food group, so that a child will not tire with your usual fare. Try to pack whole grain crackers, yogurt, or even leftovers from the previous night’s dinner. You can always spice up your usual peanut butter sandwiches with bananas or apples. Also make it a point to choose the whole-grain variety when choosing food items like bagels, breads, crackers or pasta.
It is also important for parents to pay attention to the proper food portions in a packed meal. If you pack too much food for your child, it is also like conditioning him to eat more than what he may need to consume. Schools also allow a midmorning snack for school-aged children. Try to pack healthier alternatives like whole-grain breads or crackers, fruits, sandwiches with healthy fillings, bagels or tortilla.
Children have different preferences, and it can be hard to please their palate. If your child loves sandwiches, try to make a couple of sandwich fillings in advance before the week starts. This will ensure that although your child doesn’t mind eating sandwiches, he will have a different variety each day. Try to incorporate vegetables like shredded carrots or chopped celery to usual favorites like egg and tuna sandwiches. Salads are also healthy lunch options. It is also easier to have food items from the three food groups in just one meal preparation. An example is by adding some fruits like grapes to a chicken salad recipe. Your child may not mind the added ingredient for as long as it tastes the same.
It can also help if parents try to make packing lunches exciting. It may help if you let your child choose his lunch bag, and involve him in the food preparation. Try to prepare his food the night before so that you will both have extra time. Ensure that the food you prepare can be eaten easily because your child may only have a limited time to eat at school.
Your child’s beverage also matters because some drinks may only provide too much sugar and empty calories. Milk and fortified 100% juice are the best choices for drinks during lunch. Children still need three eight-ounce glass of milk everyday until they reach nine years old. After that, they will need four servings per day. Parents need to ensure that children drink milk because it is the easiest way for them to meet their dairy requirement in a day. You can give your child money for milk, or you can make it appetizing for a picky child by sending low fat chocolate milk. If your child doesn’t want to drink milk, 100% fortified fruit juice can provide him the needed calcium and Vitamin D.
Children crave junk foods from time to time. While it may not be wise to deprive them completely of it, you can definitely offer healthier alternatives. These include baked potato chips, pretzels, nuts, graham crackers, and raisins. You can pack this along with their meals so they won’t have to go out of their way to eat junk foods at school.
Healthy eating habits start at home. Although parents would like to encourage healthy eating habits in children, sometimes it can be hard considering the circumstances. Preparing your child his lunch can go a long way, in terms of ensuring that you are not predisposing your child to obesity, and other ill-effects of poor nutrition.