You are likely back into the full swing of preparing lunches, racing to get the kids to school on time, shuffling them to activities, and repeat. So we thought it timely to share some tips on keeping your kids healthy this school year.
Now, we’re certainly not against a treat every once in a while, but we simply want to encourage making healthy snacks a part of your family’s regular routine. Give your kids healthy but tasty alternatives to those sugary treats. This may seem obvious, but developing unhealthy eating habits when you’re young may be a bigger issue than you once thought. The statistics on childhood obesity are quite alarming. Consider just a few:
For children and adolescents aged 2-19 years in 2017-20201:
- The prevalence of obesity was 19.7% and affected about 14.7 million children and adolescents.
- Obesity prevalence was 12.7% among 2- to 5-year-olds, 20.7% among 6- to 11-year-olds, and 22.2% among 12- to 19-year-olds. Childhood obesity is also more common among certain populations.
- Obesity prevalence was 26.2% among Hispanic children, 24.8% among non-Hispanic Black children, 16.6% among non-Hispanic White children, and 9.0% among non-Hispanic Asian children.
- Obesity-related conditions include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems such as asthma and sleep apnea, and joint problems.
Across the country, there have been many efforts to improve healthy eating at school including modifying or removing vending machines as well as the national school lunch program. However, healthy changes can start right at home.
5 Tips for Packing a Healthy School Lunch
Fruit – Find out what your child’s favorite fruit is and pack it! Chances are they would be delighted to find a container of raspberries or strawberries packed in their lunch bag. Fruits such as berries offer necessary antioxidants, which are vital for healthy immune systems.
Veggies – Most kids don’t like eating vegetables, but what about veggies & dip? Even better, what about veggies & yogurt dip? Yogurt dip can easily be made at home using plain yogurt, a smidgen of salt, and some herbs. Kids love to dip!
Snacks – Ditch the cookies and give your kids popcorn. You can make the popcorn at home and monitor the amount of salt and butter. Try adding a dash of dried dill and coconut oil for an even healthier (but still tasty!) twist. Kids tend to equate popcorn with fun, so pop away.
Juice – Swap the juice box for freshly squeezed juice or a homemade smoothie. Sure it may take a bit more time to prepare but likely your kid will enjoy it more and it will pack a punch of nutrients at the same time.
Vitamins – While all vitamins and minerals are important for growth and development, some are especially critical for children. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most children do not get enough iron and calcium from their diets. Other vitamins of concern are vitamin D, vitamin A, and B vitamins. A multivitamin can help ensure the pickiest eaters get all the nutrients they need. We know, it’s almost impossible to get a child to swallow a multivitamin. Instead, add a multivitamin to a smoothie and pack it in the lunch bag, they’ll be none the wiser.
Although a child trading lunch with a friend is unavoidable, parents can set an example for good nutrition by getting more active in their children’s eating habits from the start. Packing healthy and nutritious school lunches is a great way to set the right example for your little ones.
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