With the new school year starting comes the opportunity to make your child’s lunches delicious, healthy and fun. This school year is the perfect time to break the habit of packing a sandwich (ok so maybe you pack PB&J one day and Ham the next), chips, apple and cookie. As a parent, I know the struggle is real trying to come up with a variety of foods that are nutritious as well as yummy for your children. They are so busy going class to class that it’s important to load them up with power foods.
Society makes packing lunches so “convenient” for us parents! I mean they have lunchables, 100 calorie cookie bites and chips of every flavor. While these foods can be ok in moderation, it’s important that we are filling our kiddos up with healthy and nutritious foods that make them grow! Children’s bodies thrive and depend on nutrients to grow. A child who is given healthy foods will receive many benefits lasting a lifetime. A child who is given too many unhealthy foods can face years and years of physical and mental health issues.
Lunchtime is a great way to pack lots of fruits and veggies for your children. These keep their immune systems strong and ready to take on the day. Maybe your inspiration is running low on mixing up mealtimes so I’m going to provide a few different options for you.
My son loves eating raw veggies dipped in hummus. A healthy option to pack would be sliced cucumbers, baby carrots, peppers and pita bread for them to dip into hummus. The hummus is full of protein and can keep their little engines on the go. This option goes well with grapes, cheese and crackers.
One way to make their lunchtime interesting is to pack foods they can “prepare” before eating. You could pack celery, a small container of peanut butter and raisins. I call these delicious snacks “ants on a log”. This allows your child to practice those fine motor skills while keeping them interested in what’s in “their box”. Other types of foods they can prepare would be:
- Crackers, ham and cheese
- Tortilla with cheese, black beans and salsa
- Salad with tomatoes, boiled egg, cheese and garbanzo beans (they can prepare the salad just pack each item in a little container or Ziploc bag – this keeps the items fresh as well)
- Pizza crust, marinara sauce, cheese and pepperonis
The list goes on and on and there are different ones appropriate for each age group. (Your high schoolers can benefit from this as well.) You can find some neat recipes and ideas on Pinterest.
Hydration is key. Keeping those little bodies full of water is so beneficial! Kids are slammed with soft drinks, appealing juices and milks but are they always the best option? I’ll admit, sometimes I crave a little fizz but I really feel best when I drink water. Water plays such a big role in digestion as well as keeping our cells clean and active. Take your child to the store and let them pick out a water bottle of their choice. This will help encourage them to drink water.
Something sweet to eat? You can enjoy a sweet treat without the guilt. Pack your child a sliced apple, peanut butter and chocolate chips. They can “build their slice” and you can rest assure that they aren’t ingesting tons of sugar that cookie offered. You can also make a “fruit salad” by mixing their favorite fruits in jello. Nuts with peanut butter/chocolate chips are full of protein. Yogurt and granola is another yummy “sweet treat”. Your child can enjoy healthy but sweet options to satisfy that sugar craving.
So as the school year is beginning or has began for you, I want to challenge you to get creative, healthy and think “out of the box”.
At Carolina Pediatric Therapy our expertise and experience benefit not only the child being treated, but their family as well. We strive for excellence in all forms of pediatric therapy and family support. If you have concerns or questions about your child or the services we offer, call us today at 828.670.8056.
A Sweet Treat Without the Guilt
Jessica Fox, Contributor
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