Healthy Kids Lunches for School

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Lunchtime provides the opportunity for school children to refuel mid-day. By working to ensure that your kid’s school lunch is both nutritious, and delicious, you can increase the effectiveness of this mid-day meal break. Whether you pack a meal for your child, or he picks up his food at the school lunch line, you can make strides to promote healthy lunchtime food choices.

Lunchtime provides the opportunity for school children to refuel mid-day. By working to ensure that your kid’s school lunch is both nutritious, and delicious, you can increase the effectiveness of this mid-day meal break. Whether you pack a meal for your child, or he picks up his food at the school lunch line, you can make strides to promote healthy lunchtime food choices.

School Lunch Legislation

As the incidence of childhood obesity continues to increase, many people have turned their attentions to the task of correcting this problem. This push for healthier school lunches even extends to Washington where, in 2010, a bill calling for more fruits, veggies and vegetarian school lunch options, went before U.S. Congress. This bill, titled the Healthy School Meals Act, H.R. 4870, received support from many in the healthcare and personal fitness industry, including Bob Harper of "The Biggest Loser" fame. The bill ultimately passed, meaning that, upon implementation, school children everywhere should have more healthy options with which to fill their lunch trays.

School Lunch Requirements

Locally, many state boards of education and individual school boards have opted to place limitations on school lunches. These limitations often include a reduction in portion size and a decrease in the number of fried foods offered to students. Additionally, many schools work to cut some unnecessary calorie consumption by offering skim milk instead of 2 percent or whole milk to their students, or removing chocolate milk from the lunchtime milk menu.

Parent Involvement in School Lunches

While parents can’t necessarily control everything their child decides to eat during the course of a school day, they can educate themselves on the lunch options offered to their children and encourage them to make wise food choices. KidsHealth recommends that moms and dads read over the school lunch menu with their children each week and discuss the benefits and weaknesses of each potential meal choice. Not only does this practice ensure that the child has the information necessary to make wise choices, it also shows him that his parents care about his food consumption. This may lead him to pass up the more tempting, yet less nutritious, options.

Lunch Packing Success

One way to ensure that kids eat healthy at lunch is to pack a lunch for them. By filling their students’ lunches with tasty yet healthy options, parents can control their children’s mid-day food consumption. To pack a lunch that is both palate-pleasing and healthy, parents should consider low-fat foods that are still flavorful, such as fat-free yogurt, reduced-fat cheese crackers or snack-sized bags of low-cal cookies. These options will likely still please a finicky child eater, while not packing the calorie punch of some full-fat options.

It’s Not Easy

One of the biggest challenges for parents is pleasing their picky eater so that he does not swap out the well-planned, lovingly prepared lunch for a bag of chips or cookies from the cafeteria snack bar. While it may seem that the child is a captive audience who will eat whatever is packed, many kids will trade, sell or even throw away food he doesn’t like. Pleasing your eater is often not easy, but it is important to ensure that your healthy lunch efforts are not derailed.

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