Before you pack your kid’s lunch, here is some food for thought – literally.
“We know that nutrition status is directly linked to academic performance, so having a healthy lunch is definitely important for helping your kid to stay full longer throughout the afternoon so that they’re able to focus and concentrate on their school work,” said Elizabeth Mellott, clinical dietician at Good Samaritan Health System.
What is the perfect recipe for keeping your kids full and healthy? You will have to whip out your fraction skills and follow the “My Plate” guidelines: half a plate of fruits and vegetables, a quarter plate of grain, a quarter of protein, with a low-fat dairy product on the side.
You can learn more about “My Plate” by visiting http://www.choosemyplate.gov/.
In addition to math, you will also need to do some label reading.
“A lot of times you see the sugary sugar-added sweetened drinks, so that’s a big source of added sugar. It tends to make the kids a little more hyper. You really want to get the sugar from your fruits and carbohydrates,” Mellott said.
Speaking of carbohydrates, experts said you should be careful of what kind you feed your kids.
“When you’re looking at bread, you really want to get bread with a lot of fiber in it. You really want whole-wheat flour as one of the first ingredients. If you see seven grain or multi-grain, that doesn’t necessarily mean that something is a whole grain,” Mellott said.
When it comes to the fruits and vegetables, kids can be picky. Experts said you should not grow discouraged.
“Kids really need a lot of exposure to fruits and vegetables. You have to offer it to them many, many times before they may even accept it, and of course you want to lead with a good example as a parent. You want to be eating fruits and vegetables at home,” Mellott said.
It also helps to make lunch fun, for example, you can cut food into fun shapes.
For more information on packing healthy lunches, visit www.eatright.org/kids.