The Importance of a Healthy Lunch
Sue Hubbard, M.D.
The Importance of a Healthy Lunch
Now that most school-aged children are back in class, it's a great time to discuss school lunches. I like to ask my patients and their parents about this hot topic. It's interesting to hear what kids like to eat for lunch. Of course, like so many things, there's a lot of variability surrounding school lunch choices.
Elementary school children often enjoy buying lunch, especially when the cafeteria experience is novel. But because the choices are typically not as plentiful in elementary school cafeterias, some kids prefer to the take their lunch. The one thing I find most typical is that the pizza and chicken nugget lunch days are a lot more popular than grilled chicken and vegetable days. Unfortunately, school lunches are not typically the most "healthy" and often loaded with fat.
By the time kids reach middle school and high school, the cafeteria becomes more of a smorgasbord of choices, and the "hot lunch" tray is not the only option. With an array of foods from salads to sandwiches and many snack items, I often hear that the "tween" and teen set pick their favorite foods and fall far short of anything that resembles a well-balanced meal. The combination of a hamburger and fries, or a bagel and yogurt, may stand in for more healthy fare. I rarely hear milk mentioned as the beverage of choice.
By the time teens hit their junior or senior year in high school, many campuses allow students to eat lunch off campus. The "fast food world" awaits them around every corner. It's not unusual for kids in this age group to enjoy a "super sized" combo meal and a large soda. (Most of the girls I see do opt for a "diet" Coke.) This is probably not what most parents would consider a healthy lunch. The word fruit is rarely mentioned.
To start teaching children about healthy eating habits, we need to begin in early elementary school.
Sit down with your child and review the school lunch menu. It might be wise to make a deal that they may buy their lunch two days a week and you'll pack a lunch on the other three days. They can put stars or check marks on the days they want to buy.
When packing a lunch, let your child be involved, while at the same time guiding their choices.
Prepackaged pizza and Lunchables are not good choices. Go with whole grain breads for sandwiches. Use lean sandwich meats. Add some cheese for added calcium. Peanut, almond or cashew butter provides protein, too.
Cut up veggies in clever ways to make them more appealing.
Chips can be baked, and put them in your own sandwich bag. There are many great ways to pack a delicious and healthy lunch, and it's probably cheaper, too!
Available at Amazon.com:
- The Importance of a Healthy Lunch
- Chicken Pox Vaccine Has Saved Lives
- Babies and Jogging Strollers
- Window Falls Injure Thousands of Kids Annually
- Be Ready to Deal With Motion Sickness Before You Travel
- Remember, Drowning Is Silent
- Summertime Can Mean Snakebite
- 6 Summer Illnesses You Need to Know About
- How the New USDA Guidelines Change Your Meals
- Altitude Sickness Usually Mild
- Choose Insect Repellent Carefully
- Kids, Media and Childhood Obesity
- Vegetarian Diet Can Be Safe, Healthy Choice for Children
- Skin Rash Could Be Fifth's Disease
- When are Allergy Medications Appropriate for Kids?
- Cell Phones and Cancer: Get Your Hands Off That Phone!
- Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease Is Back
- The Apple Trick: On Not Tricking Kids into Eating Well
- Viruses Linger During End of School Year
- New Guidelines Aimed at Reducing Overdoses of OTC Medicines
- Earlier Bedtimes May Fend Off Teen Depression
- Teens and Headaches Seem To Go Together
- Medical History Key to Diagnosing Food Allergies
- No More Fever Phobia!
- Iron Deficiency Can Have Serious Consequences
- Pregnancy, Babies and Cats
- Spider Bite or MRSA
- Try These Tips To Control Indoor Allergens
- Steroid Sprays Effective Weapons Against Nasal Allergy Symptoms
- There's No Such Thing As a Sterile Waiting Room
- Allergy Season Has Arrived: Protect Your Kids As Spring Blows In
- Diagnosing Ear Infections Not Always Easy
- Screening Essential To Curb Sudden Cardiac Death in Young Athletes
- ADD Begins in Childhood But Can Continue Into Adulthood
- All About Tonsils
- Improving Children's Digestive Health
- Hand-washing 101: Kill Germs, Don't Spread Them
- Fever May Not Always Warrant a Trip to the Doctor
- Food Allergy or Food Intolerance?
- Your Day-by-day Flu Guide
- Wintertime Upper Respiratory Infection Sends Some Kids to the Hospital
- Stay-happy Tricks for Sick Kids
- Get Your Kids to Trade in Screen Time for Sleep
- Mono and Epstein Barr Virus: What You Need to Know
- Don't Forget Skincare and Sun Protection in Winter
- When to Worry About Stuttering
- Healthy Foods That Make Teeth Rot
- Make Sledding Safety a Priority
- New Research Offers Hope For Eczema Patients
- Why Sarah Palin Is Wrong About Michelle Obama's Weight Gain Fight
- New Iron Recommendations Issued For Children
- Get Smart About Antibiotics
- 8 Ways to Soothe a Sick Kid
- Is It Really That Icky?
- Are Germ-killing Products Harming Your Health?
- Is Cord Blood Banking Worth It?
- Child Born With Hip Dysplasia May Not Need Future Hip Replacement
- Why Vitamin D Is Important For Your Kids
- Safeguard Your Child's Digestive Health
- Goal of Treatment for Alpers' Disease is to Ease Symptoms
- Confusion Reigns Over Cough and Cold Medicines
- Children Can Have Migraine Headaches
- First They Came for My Twinkie ...
- Keeping Lunch Boxes Interesting and Healthy
- Kids Should Drink Milk, Even If It Is Chocolate
- Protect Your Child From Iron Deficiency
- Rare Muscle and Skin Disorder Can Be Difficult to Treat
- The Kid's Doctor: Kids and Choking Dangers
- Pertussis Cases Continue to Rise
- Alternative Treatments To Fight a Cold
- Contact Lenses Appropriate For Kids Old Enough to Handle the Responsibility
- Adverse Effects of Scoliosis Depend on Magnitude of the Curvature
- How to Make Sure Your Kids Eat Enough Vegetables
- Four Loko: Boozy Up-and-Down Makes This Loko Loco
- The Kid's Doctor: Young Athletes and Overuse Injuries
- The Kid's Doctor: Wart Treatments Vary
- Colic -- Although Stressful -- is Temporary
- Healthy Eating Guide to Cereal
- Supplements for High School Athletes: How to Make Smart Choices
- Why Sniffles Hit Hardest at Night
- Child With High Body Mass Index at Increased Risk of Health Problems
- Normal Weight Obesity - A Growing Concern
- Child's Height at Age 2 May Predict Adult Height
- A Parent's Guide to Coughs
- Team up With Schools to Fight Flu Season
- The Dangers of Diagnosing Online
- Family Dinners Help Fight Obesity
- Don't Take Hollywood's Advice on Treating Kids With Head Lice
- Determine Cause of Child's Lack of Growth Before Considering Hormones
- Teach Your Kids to Stress Less
- Common Food Allergies in Kids
- Healthy Lunches Your Kids Will Love Recipe
- Teens' Chronic Headaches Often Fade With Time
- Anxiety Before New School Year is Common for Many Children
- Childhood Obesity From a Holistic Perspective
- Whooping Cough Continues to Affect People of All Ages
- Keep Your Athletes Hydrated On and Off the Field
- Drink Up! Avoiding Dehydration
- How to Stop Your Baby's Wheezing and Prevent Asthma
- Fighting Drugs With the Power of Sleep
- Milk: When the First Food May Be the Best Food
- Introducing New Foods to Your Child
- Coping With Altitude Sickness
- Protecting the Future Health of Our Boys
- The Power of Persuasion: Food Marketing Really Does Work
- Fighting Childhood Obesity From a Holistic Perspective
- Congress Must Act Now to Alleviate Child Hunger
- Exercise for Kids: 5 Tips for Parents
- Too Much Screen Time for Kids Means Poorer Health
- Nutrition May Be Key to Helping Control ADHD
- Foods to Reduce Allergy and Asthma Symptoms in Kids
Copyright © 2011 KIDSDR.COM DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.