Health experts talk school nutrition

To set your children up for a great school year, make sure their bodies and minds are fueled with the right food throughout the day. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Start with a hearty breakfast. Everyone knows breakfast is important, but for school-age children, it’s even more important to ensure that they have a balanced breakfast before going to school. Multiple research studies have shown that children who eat breakfast tend to concentrate and perform better at school compared to those who skip it.

Pack a lunch. Kids typically get only 20 minutes of lunchtime at school; packing a lunch saves them from waiting in the lunchline.

Plan a week’s worth of lunch menus and pack lunch the night before. Have your children get involved or help decide what they want to eat. Make sure to pack a lunch that includes grains/whole grains, meats or meat alternatives, vegetables, fruit, dairy and a snack or two. Children are active at school and often get hungry. A snack can be handy and prevent them from going to the vending machine for a candy bar or chips.

Make a hot lunch. When you think of a lunch box, you might think cold lunches (salad, lunch meat, sandwiches, etc.). While nothing is wrong with cold foods, a hot lunch can be more satisfying. You can use a thermos to pack hot food or leftovers from dinner. This will open a world of selections for the types of food you can make for your kids.

Getting your picky eater to choose a healthy lunch 

Most families have at least one picky eater who turn up their nose at everything – from apricots to zucchini. Here are a few tricks you can try to help transform your child into a fruit and veggie lover:

The “No, thank you” bite. Have your child try at least one bite of a new food before deciding whether he or she likes it or not. Organize a field trip. Visit a farmer’s market, where the farmers can help kids choose a ripe cantaloupe or the best butter lettuce.

Ask your child for help. Encourage your child to help plan meals and grocery shop. Respecting your child’s food preferences helps reduce power struggles. Build a balance between nutritious foods and drinks and those to indulge in.

Pack light. Have your child skip the lunch line two or three times a week by packing a healthy lunch. Allow your child to choose between two options already approved by you by asking questions such as, “Do you want apple slices or grapes in your lunch today?” When involved in making their own lunch, your child may also be more likely to eat it.

Courtesy of PeaceHealth

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