Salt Lake City – As the fall back-to-school routine settles in, the school lunch routines return, too. Take time this school year to plan meals for you and your children that will help keep your energy-levels up and that will help make good habits for your children.
“It is harder in today’s society to establish and maintain healthy eating,” says Tamara Sheffield, MD, Intermountain Healthcare LiVe Well spokesperson. When preparing lunches, get your kids to help, says Sheffield. “If kids are involved in preparing the meal, they will be more likely to eat it because they have invested themselves in preparing.”
As you begin plans to make sure school lunches encourage “whole and real” foods to get your child’s day started out right. Think about the food groups and plan around them. Always pack a vegetable, a fruit, a whole grain and a protein.
Liz Bynan, MS, RD, CE, a clinical dietitian at Park City Medical Center, says parents can do simple things to keep lunches interesting and healthy:
- Use real food — items with less than five ingredients. Include green vegetables, whole grains and high fiber foods, low-fat dairy products, fruit, and protein.
- Change the presentation of foods so it’s not so boring! Make a sandwich on banana bread, sliced apples or wraps. Use fun vegetable cutters for slicing vegetables. Use sandwich or cookie cutters for fun shapes. Experiment with different kinds of lunch box containers or baggies.
- Add notes of encouragement to your child’s lunchbox or write a note on the napkin.
- Make the lunch with your child. It shows you care about your child, gives them the proper nutrition, and helps control the portions.
Intermountian’s LiVe Well public service program encourages people to eat healthy and be active. The innovative campaign includes advertising, school assembly presentations, fake vending machines, educational materials for health providers, and a family-friendly website with many engaging features such as interactive games and quizzes and links to community resources parents can rely on for support, online at intermountainlivewell.org.