As children go back to school, it is time again to think about school lunches.
Good eating habits are the foundation for the rest of your child’s life. A child’s body needs calcium and other vital nutrients to grow and develop properly. Many common health problems, such as excess weight, heart disease, and diabetes, begin with poor eating habits acquired early in childhood.
You have the strongest influence over your children while they are very young, because they can only eat and enjoy what you offer them. Start teaching your children about food while they are toddlers, explaining why certain foods are good, and involving them in selecting and preparing foods. When children start school you lose some control over their diets, as they eat school lunches and associate with friends. By the age of twelve, it is hard to change a child’s habits. Teenagers, who love to experiment with new things, may abandon some good eating habits, but tend to return to them later in life.
The grocery store is full of convenient processed foods packaged to appeal to children. It is tempting to buy items that you can just pop into your child’s lunch bag when you are in a hurry. Unfortunately, sodium, sugars, fats, and colorings are added to these foods to make them look and taste good. Read the labels carefully. Any food in which more than 35 percent of the calories are from fat is not a good choice. The effects of artificial sweeteners on the body are still unknown, and some of the additives in processed foods may aggravate asthma or allergies. Be selective and avoid relying too much on pre-packaged foods.
Every day a child should eat:
I have visited the school during lunchtime and seen what was on the children’s lunch trays. If you do not have time to pack a healthy lunch every day, try to educate your children to select foods that contain proteins or vegetables. Discuss the choices on school lunch menus with your child. Even a very young child can understand that “a protein comes from an animal” and “a vegetable grows outside.” When you know that your child ate fried chicken and macaroni for lunch, balance it with a snack of fresh fruit and plenty of vegetables in the evening meal. He or she has already had enough carbs and fat for the day.
Here are some more tips for balancing your child’s diet:
The extra few minutes here and there to pack a lunch or prepare a healthy snack will bring rewards for decades to come. Your family will be grateful for the time you invested to give them a healthy future.
“What are the problems with processed foods?” WHFoods.com“
Junk Food vs. Healthy Nutrition For Children.”MedicineNet.com