Lunches and snacks are a source of essential vitamins and minerals for children and adults alike, and without energy from food, we can start to feel tired and unable to concentrate.
This would not be an ideal situation now that school has begun, especially now that many students are at home in front of a computer for virtual learning. They need all the energy and focus they can achieve!
Why Should My Kids Always Have a Healthy Lunch Packed?
1) They learn to be responsible and self-sufficient. If they are charged with doing it themselves (or at the very least, helping you) they can become accustomed to not expecting meals to be prepared for them all the time.
2) They gain confidence by completing a “grown-up” task all on their own.
3) They can become less picky, as children who cook/prepare meals for themselves are more likely to taste and enjoy new foods.
4) They learn the importance of nutrition as they choose fresh, healthy foods from each food group to be packed.
5) They understand the importance of how what you eat impacts your body’s performance.
Why Do My Kids Resist Eating Their Lunches So Often?
Many children are fussy eaters to begin with, but oftentimes their meal aversions can actually be dealt with somewhat painlessly.
Do they like their lunch box? Get them a fun new one of their choice. Whether it’s because it has several compartments so food doesn’t touch, or it has the picture of their favorite superhero on the front, or they prefer a more mature brown paper bag look, let them have a say in the “vessel” in which their food resides!
Are they bored with the same foods over and over? They may think they don’t want to try anything new, but it’s very likely that a little variation now and then may actually just be the trick.
Is the consistency of their food pleasing to them? Not every kid likes getting their hands/faces dirty, sticky, wet, etc. Are they afraid to eat certain flavors that they may actually like simply because it could have been prepped in another way to ease the whole experience?
What Foods Should My Kids Be Eating?
Children should be packing fresh, whole foods for their daily snacks and meals. Their lunches should include 1 fresh fruit, 2 veggies, 1 protein, 1 whole grain and a dairy if desired. Unlockfood.ca has a great chart (see below) for whole packed lunches!
How Do I Get My Kids To Eat All 5 Food Groups In One Sitting?
It may be easier than you think!
A sandwich made of whole-grain bread with a protein and a dairy filling is an easy start, and just add the fruits and veggies on the side.
There are a plethora of options for kids who think they only like processed white bread vs whole grain. Try new flavors as surprise lunch additions: rye, pita, focaccia, rice cakes, etc.
Add grains and proteins TO a salad, for a one-stop-shop.
If they liked their dinner last night, pack it in a thermos for lunch today!
Kids love a good dip! Try making fruit or veggie sticks with a fun, healthy dip on the side and they’re more likely to consume the good stuff.
Try using cookie cutters to create fun shapes and sizes for little hands.
BUT, try your best to keep highly processed deli meats to a minimum. They may fall within the “protein” group, but the unhealthy salt, fat and preservatives in lunch meats like salami, bologna, soppressata, etc. are not recommended for daily consumption.
We all want the best for our kids, and we want to make mealtime as fun as possible while giving them the healthiest (and quickest) lunches we can. For more information on healthy eating, contact us for a free consultation with a Registered Dietitian today!