If you live in the United States, there’s a good chance you’ll already be aware of the health crisis facing the country, especially the younger generation. The CDC estimates that just under 20% of children in the US are obese – that’s over 14 million children aged two to 19. Studies have shown that children who are overweight or who have poor diets go on to develop life-long bad diets, making it all the more important for parents to teach their children healthy tips growing up.
Breakfast and dinner times are excellent opportunities to get children eating healthy meals, but these are instances where you have supervision on your side and you can monitor what they’re eating. You also don’t have outside influences weighing in, but the same can’t be said for lunch.
To help combat the high level of childhood obesity, many schools are implementing strict criteria for packed lunches to make sure children are eating at least one healthy meal a day. This means parents need to ensure they’re compliant with school rules, but that their children are also eating a balanced diets to get them through the school day.
If you’re struggling for ideas on how to keep your child’s lunchbox interesting and varied but healthy at the same time, we’ve put together some top tips you can implement that will ensure they’re eating a nutritious meal that’s tasty, too.
Choose Slow Releasing Foods
The lunch a child has at school is often five or six hours before their next meal, so it needs to be filling to ensure they don’t go hungry and lose their concentration in lesson time. With this in mind, go for a base of carbs like pasta, bread, or rice. If you’ve put a salad in there, bulk it out with potatoes. As a main event, these foods will satisfy hunger cravings and ensure they don’t get peckish before their next snack time.
Put Salad In Sandwiches
If you’re giving your child sandwiches, it’s a good idea to put a small amount of salad in it. Whether it’s a baby leaf salad with shredded carrot or simply a few lettuce leaves, anything green is a good idea and will provide some much needed crunch to an otherwise soft meal.
Add Veggie Sticks And A Dip
Many parents struggle to get their children to eat vegetables, but a good way to encourage them is to chop things like carrot and celery into sticks or batons and have them dip the sticks into a yummy dip. It could be hummus, cheese, mayo, or even a garlic dip. Try and opt for a low fat and low sugar dip so that you’re not eliminating the goodness of the veggies, but with an additional flavor, children may find veg sticks more enticing, and that’s one of their five a day sorted, too!
Include A Pot Of Fruit
Sometimes, children want the most exciting option rather than the standard option. It might be that they love apple but only eat apple slices rather than a whole apple, or it could be that they struggle with skins on things like oranges. Whatever it is, there are ways you can get your child to eat a portion of fruit, namely through pots with natural water instead of syrup.
Not only do a lot of children find eating from a pot easier than eating a piece of normal fruit, but it’s more lunchbox friendly, too. You already have enough to worry about, like how to package a bottle for break time without it leaking, and preventing their sandwiches from getting squashed by everything else in the box. The last thing you need to worry about is preventing fruit from bruising, in which case fruit pots are far better.
Pair these tips with your child being able to get involved with making their lunch and you should find that they not only feel more inclined to eat their food, but that it’s healthy and balanced, providing them with everything they need, too.