With childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes on the rise, encouraging healthy eating habits is more important than ever. And with fast food and junk food on campus competing with limited healthier selections, many parents prefer to send their kids out the door with a homemade lunch. For those on organic, vegetarian or allergy diets, the lunchbox is the only way to go.
The big challenge is to pack a lunch your child will actually eat instead of trade or dump. Here are some suggestions to increase the chances your children will eat the lunches you pack:
- Get them involved in the process. Teach them about nutrition and portion size as you prepare lunches together. Take them shopping and let them pick out the foods they like.
- Let them choose their own lunchboxes. If your kid thinks the one you bought is un-cool, lunch won’t even make it out of the locker!
- Kids are even fussier than adults about the temperature and texture of foods, so be sure to pick up some re-freezable ice packs to keep foods cold and fresh and some wide-mouth insulated containers for hot foods such as soups or stews.
- Inject some variety into your sandwich repertoire by varying the bread. Try different whole-grain breads as well as tortillas and flatbreads, focaccia, pita pockets, even romaine lettuce leaves for breadless wraps.
- There are many kid-friendly snacks that can replace a sandwich as main dish. If your child likes high-protein dips, such as hummus or bean dip, why not call that and a serving of baked organic chips and raw veggies lunch? Round out the menu with a serving of fresh fruit and a dessert as low in fat, sugar, trans fats and other baddies as possible.