We all know that nutrition is extremely important. The food we put into our bodies drastically affects our health. Bad nutrition can cause a significant amount of problems. But good nutrition can help with weight management, prevention of diseases, and promotion of overall wellness.
When it comes to children, nutrition becomes even more important. Healthy kids require good nutrition, so they are able to grow properly. Without a well-balanced diet, children can experience lower energy levels, impaired focus, increased risk for obesity and chronic illness, increased risk for self-esteem issues and depression, and more.
That being said, I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t already know. But since school starts next week, I wanted to take this opportunity to inform you of the importance of a healthy diet and easy ways to make a nutritious lunch for your student!
Make healthy foods fun! By cutting your child’s sandwich into a funny shape or creating a “theme” for the day, your child will be more excited about their food no matter how green it might be!
Eliminate pre-packaged meals. I know that things like Lunchables and prepackaged sandwiches are easy and delicious, but the truth is, most of those “meals” contain large amounts of sodium, sugar, and saturated fats. (All of which are harmful to your child in large amounts.) If your child likes pre-packaged foods, make them yourself! That way, you’re taking control of what goes inside the meal.
Incorporate all necessary food groups. A healthy diet consists of: fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, low-fat dairy, and whole grains. By adding all of these elements you are ensuring your child is able to eat a balanced diet. Bonus: it fosters good eating habits for the future. Children who are raised on a balanced diet are more likely to continue those patterns into adulthood.
Don’t forget the drink! Avoid sugary juices and sodas and replace them with good old H2O. Children should have around 6 cups of water a day, NOT soda. Tip: if your child doesn’t like water, you can “sweeten” their water by adding pieces of fresh fruit.
Don’t pack “too” much. I understand, you never want your children to go hungry. But in the end, packing too many snacks can be just as harmful as packing too little. You know your child better than anyone, so pack what you think is appropriate based on their normal eating habits.
Engage your student!
By involving your child in the lunchbox packing process, you are more likely to pack something healthy that they actually like. Also, this gives you more quality time with the ones you love the most.
Pretty easy, right? I hope these tips have proved helpful and that you will make the steps to pack your child a healthier lunch this school year! If you’d like more information about nutrition or meal planning, don’t hesitate to call the office at 304-265-1288. Information is also available on our website at www.GTCHDWV.org. See you next week!