School lunch programs are designed to provide nutritious lunches, right? In theory, that’s true.
In reality, it just doesn’t happen. Having my own two kids attend public schools, I have seen the menus and eaten at the school cafeterias. I’m sorry, but I would really like to see the nutrition facts for the Salisbury steak or the beef enchilada plate sometime. Color me skeptical.
And, it’s no surprise to me that kids who eat school lunches are more likely to be overweight. According to a 2010 study from the University of Michigan, school lunch buyers eat more fatty meat, drink sugary beverages, and eat fewer fruits and veggies than kids who pack their lunch. The problem: healthy food choices may be in the lunch line, but that’s not what the kids are selecting.
So, our job as parents is to A) make sure kids make healthy food choices in the lunch line and/or B) pack a healthy lunch for them. Better yet, let your child help pack his lunch.
And when you pack that lunch, aim for fresh food instead of prepackaged stuff. Pack up an apple or banana instead of fruit cocktail or mandarin oranges. Offer raw carrots and lowfat ranch dressing instead of a side of chips with that sandwich. And, give a water bottle or lowfat milk as a drink. Trust me, it can be done.
Yes, it takes some planning and grocery shopping. And yes, we are all very busy people. But, it takes less than 10 minutes before bedtime to pack a nutritious lunch.
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