It’s back to school time! (Are you crying or celebrating?!)
Many of us are not only getting back into the saddle at Cycletique, but adjusting back to our kid’s routines and after-school schedules.
It’s important to realize that as we get busier with school starting back up, we still need to keep our kid’s nutrition and overall health at the top of our lists.
While it remains true that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, lunch also plays a critical role in children’s health and school performance. If we let our kids skip lunch, they lack concentration in the classroom, have no energy for after-school sports, and tend to overeat low-nutrient snacks once they get home.
The overall goal of a school lunch is to provide a nutrient-rich meal to fuel their bodies and their brains. The trick is to provide a lunch that is not only healthy, but also appealing to your child!
Try the following easy ideas to create lunches that your child will eat, rather than trade, at school.
1.) Let Your Child Decide
Be sure to get your kids involved with planning their own lunches. They’ll be more likely to eat them if they helped buy and prepare them. If your school has a meal program, review the school menus together and let them pick what they will enjoy. School lunch is a great way to incorporate a balanced meal.
If you and your child prefer to pack a lunch, create an agreement on what goes in every lunch. Agree that each lunch needs some protein, a grain, one serving of fruits or veggies, and a dairy product. Create a checklist of each category and let your child list their favorite foods in each category. This way they can pick and choose what they would like for the day.
2.) Don’t Stress Over a Picky Eater
Variety is key to balanced nutrition, but don’t worry if your child picks the same type of sandwich every day for 2 weeks. Create a list of alternatives, based around this “normal pickiness”. Wraps come in different types of colors…crackers come in different flavors and sizes…and bread-free sandwiches can offer variety while still providing good nutrition. Get creative with what might work for a child who likes the same foods all the time.
3.) What Looks Good, Tastes Good!
The old saying goes, “We eat with our eyes first”. This applies to kids as well, so remember that even the packaging of school lunches is important! Choose a reusable bag with fun colors or cartoon characters. Choose bright foods and have fun with shapes and sizes. Use cookie cutters on sandwiches, and draw pictures on the sandwich baggies together!