Post Content

Lani blog
Lani Telian, Department of Public Health

 

All across Massachusetts, you can hear the school bells ringing again. If you’re a parent, you know what that means – busy mornings getting the kids ready and out the door with backpacks and lunch bags in hand. With just a little planning, you can help your child make healthy food choices throughout the school day.

SchSchool lunchool meals and snacks are big topics of conversation this year, and students have already started to see healthier options popping up in the cafeteria. By serving healthy foods and drinks at home, you can help your kids learn how to choose healthy options when they’re away from home.

Packing lunch is another way to make sure they’re getting the right foods and drinks. It’s not always easy to get up in the morning, make breakfast, get ready for work, get the kids out the door AND pack a lunch without feeling frazzled. It may be helpful to pack lunches the night before, either after dinner or before the kids’ bedtime. Encourage your children to help by choosing foods they like to eat, and packing them in a lunch bag or lunchbox. When kids help make it and choose it, they’ll most likely eat it!

When it comes to drinks, water is always the best choice. Adding fruit (like raspberries or lemon) or packing plain or naturally flavored seltzer water are two ways to mix things up a bit.  It’s best not to send flavored milk, which is packed with a lot of added sugar. Instead, send them with low-fat or non-fat plain milk.

Don’t be afraid to experiment.  Include a variety of foods for lunches and snacks that you’ll feel good about packing and your kids will love eating.

Stuck for some new ideas?  Make things easier by choosing one food from each category below to make a delicious and healthy lunch or snack.

 

Whole Grains:

  • Whole grain bread
  • Whole grain pita
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Brown rice
  • Whole wheat pasta

Proteins:

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Ham
  • Tuna
  • Eggs
  • Peanut butter

Vegetables:

  • Cucumbers
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Bell peppers
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli

Fruits:

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Cantaloupe
  • Watermelon

 Snacks:

  • Low fat yogurt
  • Whole grain granola bars or crackers
  • String cheese
  • Popcorn
  • Whole grain pretzels
  • Baby carrots

Drinks:

  • Water
  • Seltzer water
  • 1% low fat or non fat plain milk
  • 4-8 ounces 100% fruit juice

Here are a few combinations you could use:

  • A turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with lettuce/tomato/sprouts and mustard, baby carrots, an apple, and 1% low fat milk.  Pack a whole grain granola bar for snack time.
  • Tuna salad with low-fat mayonnaise in a whole wheat tortilla with lettuce and red bell pepper strips, a sliced up orange, and lemon flavored seltzer water.  Pack natural low-salt popcorn for a snack.
  • Peanut butter and an all-fruit spread on whole wheat crackers, sliced cucumbers, a banana, low-fat yogurt (drinkable or regular), and water.  Pack whole grain unsalted pretzel sticks for a snack. 

The key to good nutrition is to eat a variety of foods. Every time you pack a lunch with foods like fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products, you’re doing something positive for your child’s health. As an added benefit, good nutrition also improves your child’s ability to learn and succeed in school. So, what will be in your child’s lunchbox this year? 

 

Written By:

Tags: , , , , , ,

Recent Posts

Weekly Flu Report, December 2, 2016 posted on Dec 2

The latest weekly flu report shows that rates of flu-like illness rose slightly in the past seven days in Massachusetts. Still, it’s safe to say that flu season has yet to really kick in – which means there is still time to protect yourself and your family   …Continue Reading Weekly Flu Report, December 2, 2016

Keeping the Balance During the Holiday Season! posted on Nov 29

Keeping the Balance During the Holiday Season!

By Tracey Munson and Meaghan Sutherland The holiday season is on our doorstep, accompanied by an endless supply of gravy, fudge, gingerbread, and figgy pudding (okay, maybe not that last one).  While enjoying some of these foods is something we look forward to every year,   …Continue Reading Keeping the Balance During the Holiday Season!

Protecting the Health of Home Care Aides posted on Nov 28

Protecting the Health of Home Care Aides

Do you or someone you love use the services of a home care aide?  Nearly 50,000 people—mostly women—work in this growing occupation in Massachusetts.  You may be surprised to learn that recent data show that home care aides are twice as likely to have asthma   …Continue Reading Protecting the Health of Home Care Aides