Banner Health Services  

Packing Healthy Lunches for my Child

Dr. Hernandez  

Martin Hernandez, MD, is a family physician on staff at Banner Estrella Medical Center. His office can be reached at (623) 936-3223.

Question: How can I pack healthy school lunches that my children will actually eat, instead of trading with other kids or throwing them away?

Answer: Making sure your children eat healthy can be a difficult task, even when you are watching them, let alone when they’re at school where food swaps or throw-aways are common lunchroom pastimes. However, getting your children to eat a nutritious lunch doesn’t always have to be a struggle.

What I recommend to parents, and also use with my own kids, is to involve children in decisions about what goes into their lunches. The essential building blocks of any lunch are whole grains, lean protein, fruits, vegetables, and calcium. Instead of making lunches without their input, offer them a choice between turkey or tuna, apple or grapes, celery or carrots, almonds or peanuts, kids often feel less like they are being forced to eat healthy, and more like they have some choices.

Making a consistent routine of going to the supermarket with your kids and having them help pick out lunch and dinner items is also a great way to educate and engage your children. It is also important to set an example with your own eating habits. Children learn from their parents, and if they see you eating junk food, then they will want to eat junk food.

Of course, kids are kids and it’s virtually impossible to monitor everything they gobble up. Still, it is important to be involved in maintaining healthy eating habits. By not paying careful attention to what children eat, we set them up for a lifetime of potential health issues, such as obesity, diabetes and early hypertension.

By consistently applying basic principles for healthy eating, empowering your children to make smart choices about what they eat, and setting a good example, there is a strong chance that the lunches you pack for your kids will end up in their bellies, instead of the bottom of the trashcan.

Page Last Modified: 02/22/2010
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