By Diana Breault
DHAC Weight Loss Motiator
It’s that time of year again! Your little tike is heading back to school and it’s your job to make sure they are well-prepared. As a parent or guardian, you’re probably shopping for backpacks, notebooks, pencils, calculators, and lunch boxes. Even though your child is off to get a great education, it might be time to brush up on your school lunch nutrition education.
Whether you pack a lunch for your child or hand them lunch money to buy it in the cafeteria, it’s important to know what your child is actually consuming. Fortunately, my mom was a school lunch lady at my old elementary school. She was fully aware of what was being served in the cafeteria everyday. I, for one, could not sneak away with extra cookies or ice cream sandwiches. She could always keep an eye on me and my eating habits.
Other moms, however, are not so lucky. It is good to review the lunch menu with your child, especially if they have a food allergy of any sort. Help them learn what makes for healthy choices.
If you do pack a lunch for your child, make sure you are packing foods that will last several hours before spoiling. If you are packing perishable foods, verify that there is a refrigerator that can be used by students.
When packing a lunch, remember your food groups, especially vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and protein. A great lunch idea would be a turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomato on whole wheat bread, an apple, and a cheese-stick. Packing a small water pod will ensure your child stays hydrated as well.
Remember, you are not at school with your child. Your child may be experimenting with other children’s lunches, doing trade-offs saying “I’ll give you this for that.” Trust your child. When you act as a great role model at home, your kids pick up your healthy eating habits.
Also, talk to your child about foods they like and dislike. It will come in handy when packing their school lunch. Lunch provides the energy they need to get through the rest of their school day, so make sure it’s an enjoyable one.
And finally, be like my mom and draw smiley faces on the lunch bag or write something that will brighten up your child’s day on a napkin. It will make those tough test days feel a little bit easier for them.