Childhood obesity starts young and I am starting to understand why. I was shocked as a first time mother and nutritionist to see the lunch menu options for the two year olds at my son’s daycare. The hot lunch program as it is promoted in most daycare centers consists of corn dogs, fries, pizza, cheese burgers, taquito’s and some other fried food options. Nutrient VOID foods. I actually thought I would not be dealing with “the school fast food challenge” till my son was in high school! What a shocker.
I Have to Admit…
I have to admit, I am also not a big fan of the pre made packaged lunches that you can buy now at the supermarket. Not only are they overpriced, but they contain preservatives and ingredients we should not feed our children. Unless you have a school that provides healthy lunches and snacks, you’ll have to learn how to pack healthy lunches for your kids.
I'm Not Preaching
My Intent is not to preach to parents. I just want to bring awareness to a challenge we all face, as well as offer options to make it easier and even fun to provide good food for our kids. Health conscious parent’s who pack a good lunch every day may not find much to pull from this article, but maybe you can share some of your tips! However, from my own personal experience of dropping off my son’s lunch bucket everyday in the big plastic container that holds the homemade lunches in his class, I count two to three other lunch buckets daily out of a class that has 12 kids. This is one of the main reasons that fuels my passion for this subject.
I understand that most parents who participate in the hot lunch program, or purchase pre packaged food lunches do so out of convenience. Also the hot lunch program may seem cost effective. I don’t think these parents have an understanding that these foods and food habits are helping to lay the foundation for childhood obesity.
What the Stats Say
The statistics then show that unhealthy eating habits are being formed. · Statistics from the American Diabetes Association show 2 million adolescents (or 1 in 6 overweight adolescents) aged 12-19 have pre-diabetes. · The Center for Disease Control reports that Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in children and adolescents; about 151,000 people below the age of 20 years have diabetes. It’s important to know obesity can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2- diabetes, which use to be called Adult Onset, and should now be called Poor Dietary Onset as it is starting to show up in children under the age of five.
Pack a Healthy Lunch at Home
Here are some healthy lunch options that don’t take too much prep time and there tasty too! I prefer everyone to eat organic as much as possible, but I am not going to preach it in these quick meal combos. One step at a time makes progress towards healthy eating. Remember, if your child is not use to eating this way, maybe start with just one lunch meal on a Saturday, at home. Let them get use to new foods. Then add in one healthy lunch the next week and so on. The transition will happen.
Whole Grain, Whole Wheat Sandwich
Add alfalfa sprouts, vegenaise (the healthy mayo) the spread or mustard & organic soy deli meat to eat with grapes and apple chips.
Pita Bread and Hummus
To eat with sliced carrots and dipping sauce. A banana and carrot chips for snacks.
Eat with organic crackers and cheese with organic yogurt for snack. You can freeze the organic yogurts and by the time the child eats lunch they are still cold.
Super easy to make with chopped celery, carrots, beets, apples and dried cranberries. Add their favorite dressing or oil and apple cider vinegar in a little Tupperware container. They just open and pour it over the salad. A snack could be dried dates or a sticky dark brain muffin.
I have witnessed children get to the place where they only want home meals. An example of this is a woman I coach weekly; she now loves making all kinds of salads. Her 16 year old son asked her if she could make him some different kinds of salads to bring to school, she was shocked. Now she has him in the kitchen making salads with her. Our children talk like us, exercise like us, play like us and eat like us, so if you have an unhealthy lifestyle you need to make a choice to change it for YOU and your family.