What’s for Lunch?
By Patty James
Nearly one-third of our children are overweight or obese and the sad fact that this generation is the first not to have the life expectancy of their parents is part and parcel to this. Improving children’s health by teaching them to eat better is critical to academic success as well. As parents, we start out the school year with a vow to make more creative, healthier lunches only to have, by mid-December, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches three times a week. This year let’s try something new; involve your child in the creation of their lunches. If they are part of this process, their lunches are more likely to be eaten. Sit down with your child and create a menu. Do try to change your menus seasonally and if possible, and purchase organic foods when you can. Here are some tips:
You need a protein source with each meal, which can be a meat protein such as chicken, turkey or fish such as tuna, or your protein can be from beans, nut butters, tofu, tempeh or eggs. Vegetables are the key to good health; so always have veggies in the lunch. A fruit included is a healthy addition and can be eaten later in the day for a sweet pick-me-up. Veggies and fruits also supply a good carbohydrate source. Healthy fats are also necessary and can be found in avocados, olive or flax oil (used in the bean salad or in the tuna salad), and nuts.
Remember to educate your child about the dangers of drinking soda. Soda contains phosphoric acid that interferes with the uptake of calcium causing weak bones over time. No child wants weak bones, so be sure to explain why they need to drink water when thirsty and to avoid sodas, except as a rare treat.
Set aside thirty minutes twice a week to go over menus and prepare for health. Spend another 30 minutes twice a week cutting up veggies and having them all ready to go. With a little planning this year’s school lunches will be healthier and require less time once you get into a rhythm, which includes you and your child.
If the kitchen experience is fun, your child will be more likely to help in the future and remember when he/she creates their own lunches, they will be more likely to eat them!
Patty is a Certified Natural Chef with a Master's degree in Holistic Nutrition and was founder and director of the Patty James Cooking School and Nutrition Center, the first certified organic cooking school and nutrition center in the country. She created the Patty James Health Guide, a guide to life-long healthy eating and lifestyle. Patty is a frequent guest speaker in public and private schools around the US, the Clinton Foundation in New York, as well as to health practitioners and organizations. Patty runs Shine the Light On America’s Kids, an organization whose mission is to shine the light on all aspects of kids health in America. She is the author of More Vegetables, Please!
For more information, visit www.PattyJames.com.