When you're busy getting kids ready for school in the morning, a healthy
school lunch can get lost in the shuffle. You may think your child's lunch
rates an "A," when in reality, it doesn't make the grade.
Yet a few simple changes can turn lackluster school lunches into healthy
midday meals your child will actually eat.
Racing champ Jeff Gordon's focus on children's health comes at a crucial time. The number of
U.S. children with chronic health conditions has risen dramatically in the past
four decades, according to a study published last June in The Journal
of the American Medical Association. Some of the study's findings:
Of 80 million children in America, about 8% (6.5 million) have chronic
conditions that interfere with regular daily activity, says study author James
M. Perrin, MD, professor of pediatrics...
"Parents can pack the 'perfect' meal, but if their child won't eat it,
it's not right for them," says Sandra Nissenberg, MS, RD, author of
Brown Bag Success: Making Healthy Lunches Your Kids Won't Trade.
To make sure your kids eat the school lunch they take, have a talk. Find out
their food preferences: what they need and when they need it. For example,
what's best for the morning snack? Or the afternoon pick-me-up? Then think
outside the lunch box with these mealtime tips from the nutrition
Banish Bread Boredom. Trade your child's typical bread choice
Mini or full-size bagels
Colorful sandwich wraps
Whole-grain hot dog or hamburger buns, or whole-grain white versions
Focus on Fillings. Tantalize taste buds by infusing interest into
Stir chopped celery, cashews, or water chestnuts into tuna or chicken
Spread cranberry sauce on sliced, cooked turkey or chicken.
Add shredded carrots or dried fruit to any nut butter or sunflower seed
butter sandwich on whole-grain bread.
Spread a whole-wheat tortilla with hummus; add a tablespoon or two of
tabouli; and sprinkle with reduced-fat feta cheese and chopped cherry
Try a banana "hot dog": Pack a whole-grain hot dog bun spread with
almond butter or sunflower seed butter, and a medium banana. Just before
eating, your child can peel the banana and place it in the bun for eating.
Search for Sandwich Alternatives: No sandwich? No problem. These
combinations get high marks as balanced meals.