It’s the daily, back to school grind. Your summer “recess” is now a distant memory, and you’re staring at a countertop of empty lunch boxes, wondering what to pack. With busy schedules and a hectic pace, those processed and packaged items are a tempting solution to filling the brown bag. The goal of lunch, however, is to fuel your little buddy’s body, so he/she can feel great and be their best self each and every day.
Here are some tips that will get even the most finicky of eaters excited to dive into their lunch pail…
1. Make a lunch box chart and ask your child if he/she would like to help plan their menu. Studies have shown that children are more likely to eat their food if they have helped plan and prepare the meal. This works like a dream. Be sure to include categories such as seasonal fruits, whole grains, vegetables, healthy snacks, proteins, etc.
2. Your little helper’s lunchbox just might be the ideal place to introduce new and healthy food items. Kids love having the “unique” item at the lunch table. A child who likes sour fruits (or candy) may get a kick out of pulling-out a fancy little container of kumquats to show-off to the lunch crew. Check-out what is in season and seems of interest to your family members.
3. Always give your child some kind of fresh food (fruit or vegetable) in their lunchbox. This adds vitamins, minerals and enzymes which will help them with focused energy throughout the afternoon. Creativity is key here. Pack some dips and spreads to help ease the transition of new veggies and fruits and to add some fun to eating.
4. Instead of sugar based drinks, add a water bottle, diluted 100% fruit juice, or a small container of fruity herbal tea or sparkling water. This will help prevent your child from drinking empty calories and encourage them to consume them instead from the healthy items packed in their lunch sac.
5. Stick with it! Offer a wide variety of wholesome foods and flavors in a rainbow of colors. Encourage your little lunch helper to choose fresh foods from every color of the rainbow. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most children may not accept a new food until it has been offered at least 10 times. For the pickiest of eaters, this may take even longer. Hang in there. Giving your child the gift of healthy eating is worth the hassle.
As the new school year approaches, attack those lunch boxes with energy and vigor. Working together, being prepared and planning ahead will save you time and take the edge off of figuring-out what to brown bag. Remember, that lunch pail has the potential to be a valuable source of nutritionally dense energy, helping you and your family to “get going” throughout the day. It’s worth the effort!
Watch our video to learn more about our clinical philosophy, ProEx for Life (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btNIepz5j-s)
Feeding the Whole Family, Recipes for Babies, Young Children, and Their Parents by Cynthia LairLaptop Lunches by Amy Hemmert and Tammy Palstring