Children are back in school and ready to learn. And what helps fuel their minds is a nutritious lunch. But if your kids are buying from the school cafeteria, how do you help them make healthy choices?
My children are now back in school and as a parent, I want them to make healthy food choices when I’m not with them. So I’m going to share with you what I teach my kids at my home.
Right now over 30 million children in the U.S. buy a school lunch. Now the lunches are created so that kids get proper nutrition. But I’m sure many of you have no idea which foods your child eats and which foods land in a garbage can.
So first I’d recommend you talk with your kids. Pull out the weekly lunch menu and find out what they like and what they don’t like to eat.
Then explain how a balanced healthy lunch will benefit them. Point out the nutritious stuff like fruits, vegetables, and healthy protein and whole-grains. Or better yet, ask them to find these themselves so you know they understand what’s healthy and what’s not.
Also share how the right foods are packed full of awesome nutrients that their bodies thrive on. It gives them energy, not just to run around the playground or play sports, but energy that helps their brain stay alert and ready to learn. And don’t forget to point out nourishing foods also helps their bodies grow taller and stronger. There are lots of great tips to help your child eat right so here are my prescriptions:
- Make it a habit to ask your child what they ate for lunch that day. Tell them you feel eating healthy is just as important as learning.
- Let children make choices. This gives them a feeling of independence and over time they may try new foods.
- Praise them for the healthy choices they made. Don’t nag, fight or complain about what they didn’t eat as a negative approach can backfire and lead to resistance instead.
- Let them eat some fun foods occasionally as it’s not about deprivation but more about balance. You want to look at the entire day’s food intake vs. just one meal.
It’s important for kids to eat healthily but it’s not best to force it upon them. You want them to learn how to identify and make healthy choices that in time will lead to a lifelong positive relationship with food.