Home Life & People 3 Ways To Ensure You Are Packing Your Children A Healthy, Stress-Free Lunchbox

3 Ways To Ensure You Are Packing Your Children A Healthy, Stress-Free Lunchbox

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Children are a blessing from God and those of us who have been blessed with them know that being a parent is a difficult, but rewarding, job. We love our families and want to make sure they are happy and healthy. One of the best ways we can take control of our children’s health is to monitor the food they eat. Sending them off to school with a packed lunch can sometimes be rushed, but it is vital to make sure you pack their lunchbox with healthy foods so that they can stay focused and energized throughout the day. Here are some easy and helpful tips for packing your children a healthy lunch that they will love.

3 Tips for a Healthy and Stress-Free Lunchbox

Stumped by what to pack in your child’s lunchbox? Stop worrying and learn to love planning. Whether your child is an athlete who needs extra calories for that after-school game or a teenager trying to maintain a healthy weight, here are four tips from the Food and Drug Administration for making a nutritious and personalized lunch.

Tip 1: Plan Your Meals

The key to filling a lunchbox with wholesome foods that are essential for healthy growth and weight maintenance is planning. That’s the advice of Leila T. Beker of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. She should know: she’s a parent and grandparent with a PhD in nutrition. Start by planning your family’s meals for the whole week, Beker advises busy caregivers. If that task is too daunting, start smaller by planning lunch for a day or two and progress from there. Duplicate that meal plan for the next week and build on it.

“You have to have a strategy for a healthy life, week by week. Think about what fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains your family will eat so you can shop and have wholesome foods on hand,” Beker says.

Start with the basic four: fruits and vegetables, whole grains for fiber (even if that means cutting off the crust because kids prefer the soft part), dairy and protein. Get your kids involved in helping to pack their lunches and planning family meals. That helps them develop good habits that last a lifetime. If you have a bagel for breakfast, have a salad for lunch to balance your nutritional needs, she says. If your approach to each day is to grab food on the go, that can become a problem. “If you don’t plan, you become a victim of convenient foods,” she adds. 

Tip 2: Cut Portions

Kids need smaller portions. Think quarter-cups, tablespoons and half-sandwiches, depending on your child’s size, age and activity level. For a toddler, think tablespoons — not cups. Cut sandwiches in triangles, Beker says. That reduces the portion and increases the fun. What’s a reasonable portion? Think finger foods that are easily grasped by little hands: cut-up carrots and apples.

“Don’t expect your child to eat as much as you eat. If you do, they will get frustrated, and you’ll get aggravated. They will also be eating too much and won’t develop a healthy habit of eating to satiety. Instead, they will learn to eat by volume,” Beker says. Families should let children serve themselves at the table for better portion control, she adds.

Tip 3: Read the Label

Understanding the Nutrition Facts label is a big step toward a healthier lunchbox. When stocking your pantry, narrow down your choices based on the label. Read the ingredients and check for sources of fats and sugars in the food, Beker says.

When shopping for food, pick one item at a time to read the Nutrition Facts label, she adds. That way you can focus your choices on foods that provide healthier nutrient contributions to the daily intake. Next time you go shopping, check the labels of still other products. Just because something is low fat doesn’t mean it has fewer calories. Sometimes another food with a little more fat is a better overall choice because it’s more balanced. You don’t need to add extra fat or sugar to make tasty and healthy meals for your kids, Beker says. But remember: You can’t make them without planning.

Share this story with other mothers you know and ask them to join your family on a journey toward healthy living!

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