That ringing we hear is the sound of school bells. We knew it was coming, foretold by streams of anxious parents in store aisles, numbly checking and re-checking school supply lists.
In households where children take their own lunch to school, a certain level of fretting may have found a foothold. Nutrition is fuel for learning, and parents eager to give kids the best edge possible are always looking for ways to vary the fuel while keeping it as healthy and as tempting as possible.
There are multiple reasons for packing lunches — food allergies or picky eaters, to name a couple. But the goal is to keep lunches balanced: carbohydrates like grains or starches to give kids slow-release energy and brain food; proteins including fish, beans, chicken, legumes, red meat or yogurt for muscle development; fruits and veggies for minerals and vitamins; dairy products for calcium and protein; and fats essential for healthy skin, hair and nails.
Good balance helps children feel energized and less likely to feel deprived, which can lead to disordered eating, according to registered dietitian Lindsey McKeon at psychbites.com.
Involving kids in lunch planning or assembling usually makes them more likely to eat up. And putting lunch together the night before is less frazzling for everyone.
You might consider
A few of the specific food tips compiled at buzzfeed.com suggest:
Make it easier
Tips from the Mississippi State University Extension Service (extension.msstate.edu/) can de-stress the daily task:
Keep it safe
The Michigan State Extension Service (canr.msu.edu) recommends:
This school year is launching — new beginnings, new teachers, new classmates, new excitement. Think of it as a renewal for nutrition goals, too, whether we pack lunches or just want to be more mindful of the food habits developing under our own roof. We can all benefit from better balance, no matter what “grade” we’re in.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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