Small Adjustments to Your Child’s School Lunch Can Make All the Difference
Which lunch option would most children prefer: pizza, soda
and fries, or a PB&J sandwich, carrot sticks and yogurt?
According to Alicia Walters-Stewart, MD, assistant
professor of family and community medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical
Center, most kids would enjoy both, but the health difference between the two
is quite stark.
“The PB&J meal offers more of what children need every
day – protein, dairy, fruits and vegetables,” Walters-Stewart said. “Kids feel
better and stay more focused when they eat a balanced lunch.”
Walter-Stewart offers the following tips to help parents
pack easy, healthy lunches for their children:
- Stock the pantry: Convenient, versatile foods to have on
hand are unsalted nuts, baked chips, low-sodium canned tuna, peanut butter, and
whole-grain bread, tortillas and cereal.
- Fill the fridge: Be sure to have plenty of fruit, eggs,
carrots, celery, bell peppers, low-fat turkey or lean roast beef, low-fat
yogurt, low-sodium low-fat cheese, unsweetened all-natural apple sauce, mustard
and light mayonnaise.
- Prep for the week: On Sunday, cook hard-boiled eggs for egg
salad, mix a bowl of tuna salad and cut up a week’s supply of bell pepper,
carrot and celery sticks.
- Don’t forget about leftovers: Did you have grilled chicken
for dinner last night? Dice up what’s left and put that into a whole-wheat
tortilla with some vegetables for a simple, tasty wrap. Consider purchasing
small containers for nutritious dips and dressings.
- Think outside the box: Most kids like variety. Instead of a
sandwich, why not pack a roast beef roll-up without the bread? Or how about
frittata muffins? The options are endless, and the Internet is full of creative
“Eating healthy doesn’t have to be difficult, boring or
tasteless.” Walters-Stewart said. “Teaching children to make good food choices
is one of the most important things parents can do to help their kids lead
If your child suffers from obesity, schedule an appointment with the Brenner FIT program at Brenner Children's Hospital.
Dr. Alicia Walters is a clinical instructor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.