How to Pack a Healthy Lunch for Kids

Kids today are facing a health crisis. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the percentage of overweight kids has tripled since the mid-1970’s. According to the CDC, 12.5 million children are obese, and the problem is growing. Rates of allergies, asthma, ADHD, and type 2 diabetes in children continue to rise. The CDC has reported that autism rates have risen far above the 1 in 150 to a staggering 1 in 88 kids.
The dismal statistics necessitate a call-to-action. It’s important for parents to get educated about the state of our collective health in America and learn how to incorporate healthy foods in their family’s diets. A great place to begin is to take back control of lunch.
Generally speaking, school cafeteria lunches across the country are uninspiring. Menus consisting mainly of pizza, chicken nuggets, hot dogs and fries lack the nutrients essential for kids to thrive. The American College of Cardiology reported that children who purchased lunches were more likely to eat fatty meats (25.8% vs. 11.4%); drink sugary beverages (36% vs. 14.5%); and consume fewer vegetables or fruits (16.3% vs. 91.2%) than children who brought lunch from home.
But, bagged lunches aren’t necessarily healthy either. Many packed lunches consist of a sandwich, chips, a cookie and a juice drink. The result of eating too much “whites”, more and more of our children aren’t consuming the nutrients vital for proper growth. Children are growing at a rapid rate; their bodies and brains need the nourishment for optimal growth.
As parents, it’s our job to provide our children with healthy, wholesome lunches that will fuel them through the long afternoon hours at school. You can do this by choosing to pack a lunch, focusing on a whole foods plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes.
Start by involving your kids in the process. Take them to pick out a new lunchbox. Talk to them about healthy eating. Involve them in choosing, preparing and packing foods. Considering and incorporating your children’s preferences will help to avoid battles and struggle over food.
Food choices are the easiest pathway to better health. Learning how to navigate the school environment successfully will give your child the tools to navigate foods and food environments independently, a skill he or she will utilize in college and beyond.

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