Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Children
Pack a healthy sack lunch
Back to school means it’s also time to think about what children eat during the school day, said Tammy Roberts, nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
“If your child takes their lunch to school, be sure to provide a healthy variety for them. What a child eats impacts their learning and behavior, as well as growth and development,” said Roberts.
When packing a healthy sack lunch, Roberts says the first step is to consider the container.
“Paper bags can sometimes get dropped and stepped on before lunch. If you are sending things that need to be kept cold, an insulated bag may be the best choice. There is also a good selection of plastic and metal containers that will hold up well,” she said.
A healthy school lunch should include a good source of protein, calcium, grains and a fruit or vegetable (or both). Since children have been known to trade food, Roberts said be sure to send selections your child won’t want to trade.
“It also helps if you let your child help make the decision about what goes in their lunch by letting them choose from a list of healthy foods,” said Roberts.
It’s important for children to have whole grains, and, according to Roberts, there is now a whole-grain white bread. Other whole-wheat choices could include crackers, pitas and tortillas.
Protein foods could be lean meat, tuna or peanut butter. The possibilities for fruits and vegetables are endless. Yogurt and cheese are great calcium options, but it is also easy to have children purchase low-fat milk at school.
“There are ways you can get several food groups into one entrée,” said Roberts. “Try having a lean ham sandwich on a bagel with low-fat cream cheese, grated carrots and a slice of pineapple. Another possible option would be a pasta salad with cheese chunks, fresh vegetables, grapes and sunflower seeds.”
For more information on nutrition issues, go online to http://extension.missouri.edu or contact Tammy Roberts at (417) 682-3579.
Last update: Wednesday, September 23, 2009