Didn’t pack your child’s lunch this morning? That’s probably okay! How healthy are the lunches you send off with your kids in the morning? How healthy is the food they access at school? Well, you might be surprised to find out. As parents we always want to do the best for our kids, but sometimes where weekday lunch is concerned, we may be doing them a disservice. The USDA has rules about food service in schools that many surprise you. Schools districts have rules about nutrition and food servings at school, and it’s possible that the food choices in your child's cafeteria pack a healthier punch.
When we pack a lunch, we often opt for convenience over nutrition - things like chips, cookies, and other processed food. Children need a healthy balance of lean protein, whole grains, dairy, and plenty of fruits and vegetables – at least half the plate should be full of them! The USDA has some great tips and sample menus here:
The two basic rules of thumb for ensuring your child is eating healthy: 1) avoid processed foods as much as possible, and 2) exercise portion control. If your child is taking their lunch in the morning, with just a little planning, you can make sure they’re getting the nutrition they need each day to power their growing brains and bodies. If your child is taking lunch at school, guide them to make good choices, and rest knowing that those good choices are available. You don’t have to be super-parent, just a little aware. Bon Appetit!
For more tips and tools about healthy eating and physical activity at home, school, child care center or even at your office, visit Jump IN for Healthy Kids’ Resource Hub. It’s full of lessons, meal plans, and all kinds of information that you can download for free.