It is easy to be tempted by colourful, tasty, and convenient treats, but we know these aren’t the best options to fuel growing and active bodies. It is often the job of parents to play “bad cop” and ensure that children are eating a variety of nutritious foods. Simply adding healthy foods in their lunch boxes is not enough, but with a little imagination, your children can look forward to some healthy meals. You can start by creating a fun family meal-prep routine that involves the whole family.
Children like to be in charge and to have the freedom to make choices. Try giving your children choices from a variety of “healthy” options including some new foods for them to introduce in their diet.
There are a number of great options that can be combined together to make up a tasty meal. You may want to incorporate foods from each of the four food groups based on Canada’s Food Guide. Find some great examples below1,2:
- Grains: bread, pasta, cooked rice, bulgur or quinoa, cereals, and couscous
- Vegetables and fruits: Fresh, frozen or canned vegetables, leafy vegetables, and fresh, frozen, or canned fruits.
- Milk products: Milk, yogurt, kefir, and fortified soy products.
- Meat and/or meat alternatives: cooked fish, cooked legumes, tofu, eggs, cooked lean meats, peanut or nut butters, and nuts and seeds.
Here are some nutritional tips to consider when packing snacks and lunches3,4:
- Plan your lunch menu in advance. You can even make it a family activity where all members are invited to suggest their ideas.
- Include one to two servings of vegetables and fruits in lunches.
- Add a drink such as water, milk, or 100% fruit juice. If you choose juice, choose a juice that says “100% fruit juice.” Drinks labelled “beverage,” “-ade,” “cocktail,” or “delight” typically contain high amounts of sugar.
- Include lean meats and meat alternatives with little or no added preservatives.
Once you give your children the ability to choose their own lunch and snacks, it is more likely that they will embrace new foods more readily. With your help, they will learn how to eat healthy, make healthier choices, and love their lunches!
For additional guidance, visit your chiropractor for more information on nutrition and share ideas for meal planning.
References 1 Government of New Brunswick, “Eating to be Healthy: Healthy Lunches for Children” http://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/hs/pdf/en/HealthyPeople/HealthyLunchesforChildren.pdf 2 Government of Nova Scotia, “Breakfast, Lunch and Snack Ideas: for Elementary Students,” http://novascotia.ca/dhw/healthy-development/documents/Breakfast- Lunch-and- Snack-Ideas- for-School- Age-Children.pdf 3 Region of Waterloo Public Health, “Healthy School Lunches,” http://chd.region.waterloo.on.ca/en/childFamilyHealth/resources/HealthySchoolLunches.pdf 4 Eastern Health, “Healthy Lunch Ideas for Active Kids,” http://www.livinghealthyschools.com/pdf/HealthyLunchIdeas.pdf