Healthy Eating Tips
To get your child started on the road to excellent eating habits, here are some tips.
Shake up the PB&J. Peanut butter contains protein, which provides energy for your active child. Replace the jelly with spreads or jams that contain real fruit or try raisins or banana, apple or pear slices.
Produce a great lunch. There are so many fabulous veggies out there — carrots, celery, cucumbers, peppers, even broccoli — that are tasty eaten raw. I fill a container with carrots and celery every day for my kids, ages 9 and 11 — and they eat them. Protein-packed legumes, from chickpeas to edamame, power kids throughout the day.
Fruity freeze. Freeze fruit the night before then pack it with the rest of the lunch items. It keeps everything in the container cold through the morning and by lunchtime is thawed and ready for eating. Almost any fruit can be frozen including watermelon, strawberries, honeydew, mandarin oranges, pineapple, cranberries and apples slices.
Make age-appropriate meals. As the concern over portion sizes increase, it is important to evaluate just how much is enough. Appetites in both girls and boys surge around the time of puberty, for instance, so their lunches need to be adjusted accordingly. Regardless of age, kids need balanced meals with food from all the major groups.
Consider ditching the sandwich. There’s nothing wrong with bread; in fact there are “kid-healthy” white breads packed with vitamins and calcium, making them great options along with whole-grain varieties. But salads, vegetable pitas and even veggies with high-protein dips such as hummus can deliver excellent nutritional value.
Once you’ve begun to broaden your child’s food horizons — and perhaps your own — you may want to monitor the nutritional content of the lunches you’re packing. There are numerous calorie counters online from which you can choose.
Clark is chief operating officer of Tossed, a nationwide chain of restaurants serving garden fresh salads, crepe wraps and sandwiches.