By Mary Bodel | Submitted On January 14, 2015
Children can be very picky when it comes to eating. Some children genuinely hate many healthy foods. That makes packing a lunch a good bit harder.
Start at the Market: One way to find out what children will want to eat is by taking them to the supermarket. Let them look around in the produce aisle for fruits and vegetables they like. There are some prepared products in many markets now that make this easier. Apple slices with yogurt might be more interesting than just the apple.
Read Labels: Even prepackaged fresh fruit labels need to be read. How many calories do these items have? How much sodium and sugar? All of this has to be factored into each lunch. As an example, if the child really wants the apples with caramel then there may need to be a compromise on any other sweet items in the lunch.
Stay out of the Aisles: Most of the healthier choices are going to be around the edges of the store. In the aisles you will see tons of stuff that a child would love in the lunch box but they aren’t the healthiest choice. If you do give in, use them as treats not an everyday thing. It’s a lot easier to put a packet of salty snack crackers in but it takes us back to the problem of too much sodium and sugar.
Choosing What to Drink: This can be a dilemma. The safest choice is water. Zero calories, zero sugar, zero sodium. Don’t bank on a child willingly drinking it. Fruit juice is a popular choice but even those who are just juice with no additives packs a punch in the diet. Choosing non fat or low fat milk at school may work if the child likes it, but even milk has sodium.
While this is rather new, there are drink enhancers available. They have no calories and are sweetened with aspartame. This makes it easier to get even a toddler to drink water. Again, read the labels. These products do use food dyes and some children don’t respond well to several of them. There is also the question of aspartame safety but I don’t want to go down that line at the moment.
Packing a child’s lunch may be one of the best ways to ensure proper nutrition and prevent obesity. Figuring out what to pack does take time but it is well worth it.
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