Keeping Kids Healthy Advice
Teaching your child to eat healthy at home is important, especially when it comes time for him or her to go to school. School cafeterias have made an effort to improve the standards of the types of food they serve and now offer a variety of healthy foods, but your child can still choose an unhealthy mix of food.
Look over your child’s school lunch menu with him or her and emphasize the healthy options on the menu, such as fruits, milk, vegetables, lean meats, and foods made with whole grain. Encourage him or her to stay away from fried items on the menu. Find out if items such as chips, soda and ice cream are available at the school and let your child know that these are not healthy choices. Rather than banning them, tell your child that it’s ok to have these items occasionally, but not every day.
Pack your child’s lunch as often as possible. This gives you more control over what he or she is eating. Let your child help you prepare his or her lunch. Start by making a list of foods that he or she enjoys eating. Don’t forget to practice safe food handling while making your child’s lunch:
Always wash your hands and have your child wash his or her hands before handling food. Also, put several moist towelettes in his or her lunchbox for hand cleaning before and after they eat their lunch.
Use cold packs or freeze some foods and drinks overnight so that they stay cold until your child’s lunchtime.
Use a thermos for hot foods, such as soup.
Wash out lunch boxes every night or use brown paper lunch bags that can be thrown away.
You can make your child’s lunch healthier by modifying regular lunchbox items:
Instead of white bread, try whole-grain breads, such as wheat or oat, or try using pitas or tortillas.
Choose leaner deli meats, such as turkey.
Buy reduced-fat or reduced-sugar peanut butter.
Try light mayonnaise or mustard instead of regular mayonnaise.
Instead of buying pre-packaged lunches, such as those that include crackers, lunchmeat and cheese, make your own.
Instead of fried chips or snacks, buy baked chips, popcorn, trail mix, or vegetables, such as celery or carrot sticks.
Give your child yogurt, low fat pudding cups, gelatin cups, graham crackers, trail mix, or homemade oatmeal cookies or fruit muffins instead of store-bought cookies or snack cakes.
Put fresh fruit or fruit cups packed in natural juices instead of syrup.
To drink, give your child milk (which is available at many stores in juice box type packaging), water, or 100% fruit juice. Many schools do not allow children to bring sodas to school.
Whether your child takes or buys lunch at school, encourage him or her to make healthy choices for lunch that will give him or her enough energy to finish the rest of the school day.