Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What are your kids eating for Lunch?

I cannot believe summer is almost over and my little ones are heading off to school again. I want to let you know a few facts about our children and their nutrition. If you were looking to change their health now is the time. The American Dietetics Association reported that half of all children from ages 2 -18 years eat less than one serving of fruit per day.

This summer we had lunch at the kid’s cafeteria to get a felling of the nutrition at the school. The school has to feed many children and has to make it on a budget. We had a few lunches so I could see and taste the difference between the meals. Each meal I calculated to be between 2500-3000+ calories just for lunch. The meals varied between chicken, beef, and pastas. I could taste and see they used white flours and most items where fried. There was heavy sauces and canned foods. Now, I will say it is a great service to have food provided at the school for some individuals. I only wish they would get on board with nutrition today and not use hydrogenated oils, heavily processed foods, white flours, and sugar. Most of all I wish we could get fresh fruit and veggies. Now if they are not getting these nutritional dense foods at school where can they get them? From Mom or Dad.

Of course the best way to make sure they are getting a balanced diet is to pack the lunches yourself. This can be tricky at times, where kids can trade or throw away their food. I am not discouraging you, just preparing for picky eaters. Ask your kids what they are wanting in their lunch and make some healthy substitutes. Have them help you plan the meals so they have involvement and feel it is their lunch. You will have less rebellion when they understand.

So where do you start?
1. At home during dinners start with a few small portions of new items to see how they like it and ask if they would like it in their lunches. When they try something new in a smaller portion it is not overwhelming and gives them a chance to decide in a comfortable environment. Trying something new that does not agree with them will cause rebellion to home lunches.

2. Take your child shopping, let them pick out their fruits and vegetables, along with picking out a NEW item for the week. We are stimulated by the eyes with colors and textures. When they take ownership they tend to like items just because. If they do not like something the first time, do not get upset or quit. Try it in combination with other things, or make it differently, it may be a hit the second time around.

3. Allow your child or teen to help you cook dinner and lunches. When they feel accomplishment in creating something tasteful, they want to try more.

4. We mentioned making a menu together. Remind them it is a 3 or 4 day rotation. This allows for a diversity of nutrients while also reducing the chance of creating allergic reactions of foods. (Peanut butter, Turkey, Roast beef, chicken salad). This keeps things from getting stagnant and boring.

5. It can be very tempting to throw in junk foods every now and then. Try not to, you are making habits for life.

6. Get creative. This is the most important. I use wraps, large lettuce leaves, pitas, and breads. If it is always a sandwich is may not be as appetizing.

7. Be an example! This maybe hard at times but what better way to teach your children eating habits than with your nutritional diet. If your not doing it than they will not either.

Here is a few examples of great meals.

Breakfast: Yogurt, granola, Kashi (high fiber cereal lots of great tasting cereals), fruit, eggs (hard, poaches, omelets, scrambled), oatmeal, veggies omelets, mixed fruit, burros.

Lunches: sandwiches, mixed veggies, burros, chicken strips ( non fried), yogurt, beans and rice, stir fry's, fruits, wraps. Low-fat cheese sticks.

You get the idea. If your children does not like to eat vegetables, give them some dips to get use to the flavors of raw veggies. Ranch, hummus, yogurt and peanut butter dip, and more. Other great items to include are seeds, nuts, dried fruits (limited), crackers, rice cakes and brown rice. This is fun and gets them working towards healthy habits.

Also, remember to look on labels for ingredients. If any of the many names for sugar is listed in the first three ingredients, Move On! Stay away from enriched products of any flour. Even though it may not list enriched on package, look for it in the ingredients. Look for labels that say non-hydrogenated oil, too. This will reduce the chance of heart problems, and yes about 1 in 5 teens are now having cholesterol issues. Your deli meats should list no nitrates. Hormel is one of the companies you can find in most groceries that carry little preservatives. If you can get a organic no - preservatives lean meat that great!

Antioxidants rich foods are those of bright colors like orange, purple, blues, greens, and reds. These super foods reduce inflammation, reduce free radicals that break down tissue, and boast the immune system.

Have a Blessed and Healthy Day!

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