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Health Department Notes

Packing a healthy school lunch

Kids who eat a healthy lunch are ready to learn. While hectic family schedules can be a challenge to manage, taking the stress out of making school lunches is as easy as getting the kids involved and planning ahead. Here are a few simple ideas to get your family started.

The following tips can help your child get off to a healthy start.

• Ask your children what they want to eat for lunch.

• Allow kids to make choices. They like to participate in decision-making.

• Tempt your children with tasty, nutritious treats.

• Pack lunches that satisfy youngsters’ taste buds by choosing healthy snack foods.

• Get children involved in the lunch-packing process.

• Ask your children to help you shop. They may be more likely to eat a well-balanced meal and less likely to trade or throw away an entire food group.

• Stock up on a variety of foods.

• Pick foods that provide fuel. Parents need to give children snacks that are rich in nutrients and keep energy levels high. This will help youngsters perform well in school.

• When preparing lunch, instead of mayonnaise, choose lite mayo or mustard; instead of potato chips choose pretzels, and instead of bologna, choose turkey.

• Include healthy snacks, such as baby carrots, raw broccoli, raisins, celery, fruit, applesauce, yogurt and cereal bars.

If your child will be eating in the school cafeteria, review the lunch menus. Most menus are posted at school in advance or sent home with students. Allow children to help select which days they’d like to buy lunch, and help them pick items with the greatest nutritional value. In addition, be sure to pack a healthful snack to supplement the lunch. Planning with your children will help them eat a balanced diet that includes junk foods as an occasional treat, not an everyday habit. Teaching healthy eating practices early will help children eat well throughout their lives.

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