We know mornings are hectic, especially for parents. Getting your kids up, ready for school and out the door can certainly be an ordeal. Preparing lunch for your kids can get lost in the shuffle of your morning routine, but that could be affecting your child’s overall health and performance in the classroom. Even though school cafeteria lunches have generally become healthier following the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act established in 2010, the most effective way to guarantee a healthy, nutritious lunch for your child is to make it yourself.
A child’s lunch provides roughly a third of their total daily calories, so it’s important to really make those calories count. You want your child to get his or her daily nutrients like protein, vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron and calcium, which are critical for your child’s current health as well as their growth and development. Establishing healthy eating habits is also a great way to avoid childhood obesity and increased body mass index (BMI) that can lead to heart disease and other medical issues as they grow.
A healthier lunch has been proven to help young students concentrate in the classroom. A study taken in 2014 by The Amherst H. Wilder Foundation examined the eating habits of children and discovered that kids who ate more nutritious meals and snacks performed better on literacy tests when compared to children with a diet higher in fat and salt. Additionally, better meals provide the energy kids need to make it through the school day and stay alert and active during after school activities and sports.
Follow these tips to help provide a wholesome, healthy school lunch for your kids:
- Prepare lunches the night before to avoid additional morning craziness
- Plan healthy meals with ingredients like fruits, veggies, whole-grains and low-fat dairy products
- Avoid all trans fats and limit saturated fats, calories and salt
- Include some form of protein (dairy, meats, nuts or peanut butter, eggs, beans)
- Provide your kids with healthy drinks like milk and water instead of sugary stuff like certain juices and soda
Proper health and nutrition is important, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Letting your kids participate in choosing and preparing their own lunch can help keep them interested in their meal and less likely to eat something else. Eating right is the first step for your kids towards staying fit and leading a healthy, active lifestyle. If you have questions about your child’s nutritional needs, don’t hesitate to contact Children’s Wellness Center today at (404) 303-1314. Add or follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more information and updates.