As a parent, you are probably concerned about whether your children are getting the right nutrition at lunch. While most schools offer a cafeteria lunch, you may prefer to pack one instead. As you load up the lunchbox, strive to provide your children with foods they love while supplying them with the right nutrition.
Make Healthy Sandwiches
The first step to making healthy sandwiches is choosing nutritious bread. Choose whole wheat varieties rather than processed white bread. Some breads that contain the words "wheat" or "whole grain" on the labels may be deceiving. Look at the ingredient lists and choose breads that list whole wheat as the first ingredient. If the first ingredient is enriched wheat flour, or simply wheat, the bread is not whole wheat. As for ingredients, select low-fat cheeses over full-fat versions, and substitute turkey, chicken or tuna for the more processed ham, bologna or salami.
Choose the Right Beverages
Certain beverages can pack extra calories, sugar and fat into your children’s lunches. Avoid beverages that are high in sugar and calories, such as soda and fruit juice cocktails. When choosing a fruit juice, make sure that the juice is 100 percent fruit without any added sugar. Avoid juices that contain grape juice as a sweetener, as this is a concentrated source of sugar. If milk is your child's beverage of choice, pack low-fat or fat-free varieties rather than full-fat milk. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, full-fat milk is the biggest source of saturated fat in children’s diets.
Include Fruits and Vegetables
Include at least one serving of fruit in every packed lunch. Include your children’s favorite fruits, as well as new varieties that you think your kids might enjoy. On some days, pack whole fruits, and on other days slice fruit up into cubes. Include yogurt or peanut butter for dipping. Incorporating vegetables is also a good way to help your children meet their nutrient needs. Include vegetables like lettuce, tomatoes or roasted peppers on sandwiches. Put cut-up vegetables, like cucumbers, peppers or baby carrots, into small snack bags, along with a flavorful dressing, such as ranch or tomato and bacon..
Involve Your Children
Despite your best intentions, packing a healthy school lunch is only beneficial if your children actually eat it. Children who help make their lunches are more likely to actually eat them, according to a 2009 article in the "Chicago Tribune." When you go to the grocery store to buy lunch foods, get your children involved in choosing them. Let them pick one or two items from a few healthy options. Include your children in the physical packing of the lunch as well. Let them put snacks in snack bags and place the items in the lunchbox.
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