It’s back-to-school time once again, and if your like me, your hoping to find ways to pack healthier lunches for the kids’!
For many moms and dads, packing a healthy lunch is at the top of the worry list. It can be hard to strike a balance that makes both parent and child happy when it comes to lunchtime. But ensuring children actually eat what’s in the lunchbox, instead of trading it, may be easier than many parents think.
That’s what Dr. Alan Greene, practicing pediatrician, father of four and author of From First Kicks to First Steps, Raising Baby Green and Feeding Baby Green, wants to teach parents. Dr. Greene has teamed up with Horizon to give parents the inside scoop on how a pediatrician packs a healthy lunch for his kids–and one that they really eat.
Dr. Greene’s tips include getting the kids involved in making the lunchbox choices. He suggests putting together a laminated “menu” from which your child can mark off their selections the night before with a dry erase marker. Each evening, just wipe yesterday’s choices off, and let them start fresh.
Some possibly lunches include:
Main: A sandwich made with 100% whole grain bread or whole grain pasta or rice. Whole grain crackers with Horizon organic cheese break up the sandwich rut and are fun to eat.
Fruit and Vegetables: Anything your child likes, preferably organic. Fruit dipped in organic peanut butter or organic yogurt will boost energy levels and keep kids full longer.
Snack: Nuts, dried fruit, hard-boiled egg, Horizon Tuberz, pretzels, and air-popped popcorn are all great options for snacktime.
Drink: Milk is a smart alternative to juice boxes. Horizon organic single serve milk comes in a variety of flavors and offers kids calcium and protein to power through the day.
“It doesn’t have to be a struggle to get your kids to incorporate these items into their own lunchboxes,” said Dr. Greene, reminding us what every parent already knows: kids like to call the shots. “Children are more likely to eat food they have a hand in choosing or preparing. There are plenty of options that are convenient, portable and loaded with the essential vitamins and nutrients to improve focus and brain function. And all kids have to know is that they taste great.”
Dr. Greene recommends that parents focus on some key nutrients that feed the body and mind, to help kids perform well and stay alert all day.
- Vitamin D: Often called the “sunshine vitamin” because the body makes it only when exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D is important for kids and teens because it builds strong bones by helping the body absorb calcium.
- Calcium: Children age 4-8 need 800 mg, and over 9 need 1300 mg. A glass of milk contains about 300 mg, a serving of yogurt contains about 400 mg and a Horizon cheese stick contains 200 mg. Data shows children who consumed milk or calcium-rich foods at lunchtime tended to get the calcium they need each day.(1)
- DHA Omega-3: A fatty acid that plays an important role in supporting cognitive function and eye health. Foods fortified with DHA, like Horizon Milk Plus DHA Omega-3, are an easy way to add this critical nutrient to a child’s diet.
- Choline: Found in eggs and nuts, this nutrient is important for the creation and function of neurotransmitters within the brain and nervous system. A hard boiled egg or handful of nuts are both easy ways to get choline.
- Antioxidants: Antioxidants like Vitamins A and C help boost the immune system and aid the body in fighting disease. Many kids enjoy antioxidant-rich foods like strawberries, raspberries and blueberries without knowing how these delicious berries might also help keep them healthy and strong.
- Whole Grains: Whole grains are rich in folate and other B vitamins that help support a healthy nervous system. Whole grain tortillas, breads and pastas make it easy to get whole grains every day.
While we are talking about healthy foods for kids at school, check out these 4 Ways To Green Your Kids’ Linchboxes!
For more tips from Dr. Greene, information about the benefits of DHA, or healthy recipes, visit www.horizondairy.com or www.facebook.com/horizon.