Healthy food for kids who go to school
Healthy school lunches
Healthy lunches and snacks are an important aspect for children that improves their concentration and learning. Switching to healthy eating isn't always an easy task, but there are simple ways to make your child's school lunch healthier.
Encourage your children to make healthy food choices for healthy eating
School-age children learn quickly and are influenced by their friends and the most popular trends. This is an important time to talk with them and instill healthy eating habits.
The following tips will help you encourage your children to make healthy food choices:
Talk to your children about what they'd like to include in their snack. Suggest healthy foods and drinks and decide the content of the snack together.
Write a shopping list together. Take your children to the grocery store and let them choose foods and drinks that you have included in the list.
Try to get them to help prepare their snacks. Older children can prepare most of their lunch on their own, while younger children can help make sandwiches or cut fruit. Preparing a snack the afternoon before is a good idea for children to help out.
What should you include in a healthy snack?
Try to plan a healthy snack to start the school year. Talk with your children and talk about what they'd like to include in their snacks.
These are the six key elements you can't miss in a snack:
milk, yogurt or cheese (you can use reduced-fat cheese in children over 2 years old) If your children do not tolerate dairy products, you can opt for other alternatives such as calcium-enriched soy drinks, rice drinks or soy yogurt.
meat or other alternative meat foods such as lean meat (e.g. chicken strips), hard boiled eggs or peanut butter. If your child's school follows a nut-free policy, do not include peanut butter or other nuts in the snack.
cereals or other cereal-based foods such as bread, muffins, unleavened bread, fruit bread, or crackers (whole grain is the best choice)
Here's a list of tips for preparing a healthy snack:
Cut large pieces of fruit and put them in a container: children will eat them more easily, especially those who have teeth that are about to fall out or those who have less time to eat than they are used to. Tuck in a wet washcloth to help with the fruit juice.
Include half a sandwich or muffin for morning recess - it's an easy, healthy way to get your fill.
In the hot period, include frozen milk, yogurt or water, and even frozen orange wedges. This way, you can prepare a perfect refreshing snack and, at the same time, the snack will stay fresh.
Go for colours and freshness by introducing a variety of crunchy fruits and vegetables into the snack.
What shouldn't you include in a healthy snack?
Some products do not fit into a healthy school snack. Here are six foods to avoid when preparing your child's lunch:
all sweet drinks such as fruit juices, fruit drinks, syrups, isotonic drinks, energy drinks, flavored water, flavored mineral water, iced teas and carbonated drinks: they are high in energy and sugar and can cause weight gain and oral health problems in children.
dried fruit bars and strips: they are low in fibre and high in sugar and can stick to children's teeth, causing tooth decay.
dairy desserts, chocolates and muesli bars: they are usually high in fat and sugar.
chocolate spread sandwiches, jam and honey: add extra and unnecessary sugar to the snack.
Processed fatty and salted meats such as salami and Strasbourg sausages.
baked crackers. Although it may seem like a healthy option, some contain as much salt and fat as French fries.
artificially sweetened drinks: they promote the habit of drinking sweet drinks in children, are acidic and can cause cavities.
School Lunches and Food Safety
Often, food stays in the snack for several hours and it is important to keep the snack cold so that the food stays fresh. Follow these tips to keep snack food in good condition:
Choose a stand-alone or cooler snack.
Place a wrapped bottle of frozen water or a frozen block next to foods that should stay cold (cheeses, yogurts, meats, and salads).