School will start soon, and moms are gearing up to pack lunches every day. There’s nothing wrong with eating processed food every now and then, but it’s usually loaded with sodium, calories, saturated fat and/or sugar. However, it’s not the best choice to keep little bodies healthy and minds alert at school.
It can also damage their teeth! Tooth decay is the most common and yet most preventable disease among U.S. children, according to the Academy of General Dentistry. The disease is seven times more common than hay fever and five times more common than asthma. Sugary, processed foods and acidic sodas can do a lot of damage to your child’s oral health.
Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids
Give your kids something colorful and fun to eat and they’ll never know they’re loading vitamins, protein and fiber into their bodies without all the preservatives and artificial flavoring.
- Packed with healthy ingredients, a smoothie is a breakfast treat! Use frozen fruit, a little ice and some milk to blend up a delicious meal. Add a handful of fresh spinach for an extra burst of nutrients, and you can’t even taste the difference.
- Add some shredded carrots to some shredded barbeque chicken for a delicious sandwich.
- Use tiny cookie cutters to make boring food into fun shapes. Try it with thin slices of melon, cheese, cucumber or whole-grain bread.
- Instead of one big, boring serving of the same thing, try the newly popular “bento box” style by including a variety of different foods in tiny servings. A few cauliflower heads and cucumber stars with hummus dip, a couple of PB&J “pinwheel” wraps, a boiled egg and a small cup of all-natural yogurt can make a fun, filling lunch.
- Choose green (spinach) wraps or red (tomato or red bell pepper) wraps instead of plain tortillas and switch them out for a fun twist.
- Change it up! Tuck some tuna salad (made with less mayonnaise) into a whole-wheat pita pocket, or put some peanut butter and raisins on some celery slices for “bugs on a log.”
- Trail mix made with raisins, sunflower seeds, nuts, dried fruit and a few M&Ms has just enough sugar for dessert with plenty of healthy fats and proteins as well.
If you involve your child in helping you prepare his lunch the night before, he will be more likely to eat and enjoy it the next day because he has some ownership over part of it. It can also build responsibility and help encourage healthy habits.