Okay, let’s face it–school is right around the corner, and in some cases, the corner has already been turned! Bring on the lunch foods filled with preservatives and the sugary drink to finish them off, right? Wrong! Along with setting goals for your children in the classroom, on the court, on the field, or in other activities, help them set goals to become more healthy young individuals– not next year, not as a New Year’s resolution, but today!
I get it; some of us do not even know how to eat healthy ourselves, let alone help others try to do it. However, it is never too late to learn and make the difference in your own life and especially in the lives of your children. And if you have already taken the healthy lunch packing idea and made it your own, that’s great! But you can always learn more ways to do it. Lunch is a very important time for youth to have great sources of nutrition as it re-vamps energy levels that will help them to continue learning at the fullest potential for the rest of their day at school. Lunch is also extremely important so that students can re-fuel before beginning practices or after school activities once the school day is over.
While researching a bit for this topic, I stumbled upon some great resources and a blog that really inspired a good amount of the content in this post (which I will provide a link to at the end, so keep an eye out). While incorporating some of the information I am going to provide will be beneficial for the health of your children, it can also be a great relationship and communication building activity. Have your kids help you plan the meals. This will help them to feel that they have a voice and know that their opinion matters to you. It will also allow them to learn why the food choices are healthy, which will play a crucial role in making their own future decisions about meals as they grow older and eventually have to make those decisions for their families.
By now you might be thinking, “Enough chit-chat. Let’s get to the good stuff!” So, here are a few simple tips that will hopefully be of help to you:
- Instead of sugary snacks or chocolaty desserts, try dried fruit mixes. The ones with cranberries or blueberries are my new favorites!
- Veggies with low-fat ranch dressing or baked snacks, such as pretzels, are great side dishes!
- Help them rehydrate with water or low-fat milk instead of sugar-filled juices or sodas.
- Whole foods will be your best friend! Whole grains, fresh vegetables, and fresh
fruits are nutritious sources of protein, carbohydrates, and fiber…and they
- Get them started on salad early. Grilled chicken or tuna go great with low fat dressing or light mayo. Add an extra touch of something such as sweet cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, or strawberries to give it a “yummy” kick!
- Brown rice (or other whole grain pastas) with their favorite grilled veggies will
fill them up and give them lasting energy.
- Nuts (peanuts, cashews, almonds, etc.) are protein packed and are also good sources of healthy fats that play an important role in healthy brain function, weight loss and management, and fighting fatigue.
- Don’t take the easy way out. Many processed foods (such as chicken nuggets,
Lunchables, hotdogs, and Oreos) have been chemically altered, and are packed
with calories, trans and saturated fats, sugar, and sodium. Not all of them are
extremely unhealthy, but think about it and pay close attention to food labels!
- Allow children to make a list and be honest about which foods they like and do not like. If something they like is unhealthy, keep it similar but find a healthy alternative.
- Plan ahead! Take some time after your Sunday routine (or whatever day works best for your family) and plan what the school lunches will be for the coming week. It will be fun and will allow your children the opportunity to learn the responsibiligy of being organized, managing time, planning ahead, and eating healthy!
Take a minute and ask yourselves these questions: What is worth it? What is not worth it? Fried foods are not worth it. White bread is not worth it. Ho-Ho’s are not worth it. Your children’s health is worth it. Your health is worth it. A stronger relationship because of the time spent with your children is definitely worth it.