Summer's over, there's a chill in the air, and big yellow buses are trundling down streets in neighborhoods across America. Much to your child's dismay and - if you're like most parents - to your delight, school days are here again.
Goodbye mid-afternoon popsicle... hello school lunch!
While a lot about school has gotten better since I boarded that yellow bus so many years ago, there's one thing that remains depressingly lacking: decent lunch options in the cafeteria. On a daily basis, the lunches offered by too many cafeterias just don't offer kids the nutrients they need to do their best in school and build a healthy foundation for the future.
The start of the school year poses unique challenges for parents trying to get their families to eat healthier. We've often talked about how boredom can absolutely kill a diet. When you're dealing with kids, multiply that by a thousand. You may be willing to eat the same thing for lunch three days in a row, but any parent who's been on the business end of a tantrum over boring brown-bag lunches knows the importance of variety.
If you've browsed other Beyond Diet articles, you've likely already seen my "Four Rules" for creating healthy lunches for your family. Here are a few more specific tips to keep in mind when you're preparing your child's lunchbox.
How to Get Your Kids Through the Day
- Schools don't allow time for snacking: We know that the most efficient way to eat is to have five small meals each day, rather than three large ones. Unfortunately, schools seem to have missed that memo. Your child gets one lunch period - really little kids may get an additional snack - and that lunch may be really early in the day. Pack protein- and fiber-rich lunches to make sure your kids still have energy to burn hours after eating.
- Kids like to trade:. If the lunches you prepare are boring, your kids will try to pawn off the less-exciting fare for their classmates' sweets. But that doesn't mean you need to add cookies or candy to your kid's lunchbox. Consider freezing grapes and putting them in a stay-cool container - they're a sweet snack your kids will be inclined to hang on to. Or try some other kid friendly snacks.
- Play healthy mind games: Pack your kids healthy french fries they'll love! A little time in the oven can turn almost any vegetable into a healthy, crunchy baked chip or healthy french fry. For instance, I absolutely love baked beets and button mushroom chips. Just make sure you pack them in a paper bag to absorb the moisture, or you'll risk sending your kids to school with vegetable jerky.
While you're at it, don't forget to plan your own meals. A lot of parents get so caught up planning meals for their families that they neglect their own healthy eating goals. Plus, one of the best things about feeding your kids healthy meals when they're young is that you can enjoy delicious, healthy meals together! Get completely done-for-you meal plans on the Beyond Diet program with food the ENTIRE family can eat! Just click on the link below to get started.