We all want to make sure our children are getting the most out of school, especially when it comes to lunchtime. School menus are becoming increasingly more nutritious, with vigorous efforts to ensure children are offered and taking more fruits and vegetables. Most schools are doing so in an effort to reduce the rampant occurrence of childhood obesity, early onset diabetes, ADHD, and various other diseases that are affecting more and more youth. Many schools, like those in the Cherry Creek School District are committed to ensuring our children are offered various sources of nutritious foods at mealtime. Aurora Public schools are not far behind. If your school district, or particular school, does not participate in a program that is offering food you know is beneficial for your child, then you always have a few options:
Pack their lunch: While paper bags are always a good option, these days lunch boxes come insulated and you can purchase freezer packs to keep cold items cold. You should also purchase some BPA-free containers to keep extras in, instead of using plastic bags that create unnecessary waste. A hot container will also be helpful to send leftover home-made stew or soup during the cold winter months. Review the list for tips on how to make packed lunches more nutritious.
Get Active: Participate at your child’s school to strengthen the parent voice and make a change, such as joining or creating a group dedicated to solving the issue. Support or join organizations that are working towards helping get local, organic food into our children’s schools.
Add super-foods to packed lunches
Find a way to add super-foods, such as these, to your kiddo’s lunch for school. You may be wondering “What is a super-food?”, well a super-food is classified as a food that has considerably high nutrient and/or phytochemical content that have the capability to produce numerous health benefits. It is always best to go organic when purchasing produce, so head over to one of the Aurora Farmers Markets, or Sprouts on Havana tends to have a good organic produce selection for reasonable prices.
Use whole grain breads for sandwiches
When making sandwiches, try to avoid using breads that have been refined or bleached and stripped of any nutrient content. The consumption of refined and bleached sugars and flours have been linked to an increase in diabetes. Instead try to use whole grain breads that do not contain added sugar, fat, or sodium and have not been refined and bleached, stripping vital vitamins and minerals. For a change of pace make a sandwich in a whole grain pita, in a wrap, or with a leaf of lettuce. It is always a good idea to read the labels to ensure you are aware of what is going into your child’s lunch box. Here are a few recommendations for whole grain, organic bread choices.
Keep it interesting, add variety
Spice things up. No one wants to eat plain old peanut butter and jelly, fruit cup, celery sticks, and juice box everyday. Not that PB&J isn’t fantastic, it just gets boring eating the same thing over and over. Plus, when variety lacks in the diet, your child may not be getting all the nutrients he or she needs. Here are a few fantastic ways to add a little variety to the lunch box before your kiddo heads off to school.
A little hummus can go a long way
On days that you are sending veggie slices along with your kiddo, consider sending a side of hummus for a veggie dip. Whole grain crackers also make a fantastic dipper. Hummus is made from pureed chickpeas and is an excellent source of fiber and protein and is high in vitamins and minerals like folic acid, zinc, and magnesium. You can find hummus pre-made at almost any grocery store, or you can make your own at home.
Be cautious when sending packaged snacks with lunch
While you may like the convenience of sending packaged snacks along for your child’s lunch, these snacks are typically high in sodium, fat, and have a ridiculous amount of added sugars, contributing to a host of heath issues in youngsters, including foggy thinking, fatigue, and obesity. These snacks can be replaced with healthier options like yogurt, trail mix, or dried fruit slices. Your child’s health and grades will improve as a result of avoiding these snacks. If you do not have time to add a healthier option, read the labels of packaged snacks to ensure you are avoiding as many “dirty” ingredients as possible, adding to the nutritious lunch you have already packed.