Health Topics

The ABCs For A Healthy School Lunch

The ABCs For A Healthy School Lunch

Proper Nutrition During the School Year

Each fall brings a whirlwind of activity as families buy backpacks, purchase school supplies and outfit their kids. Planning for proper nutrition during the school year – a vital component of academic and athletic success – somehow gets lost in the shuffle.

Parents who are creative and plan ahead can ensure that brown bag lunches are healthy, offer variety and meet the needs of young bodies and minds.

8 Tips For Packing Healthy School Lunches

Here are some tips for packing lunches that are nutritious and appealing to children:

  1. Assemble a healthy lunch with whole grains, lean protein sources, fresh fruits and vegetables, a serving of dairy and a treat for special occasions.
  2. Be prepared by using Sunday night to plan out lunches for the week.
  3. Consult your child about which healthy foods they like. If they have a say, they are more likely to eat what you pack!
  4. Decide which day of the week your child can buy a school lunch. This will allow parents to better control children's food choices and save money.
  5. Encourage eating at lunchtime. Students who eat one-third of their daily food intake at lunch have more energy to learn, stay alert and pay attention. Ask your child how long the lunch period is so you'll know how much to pack.
  6. Fun food is more appealing. Surprise your child with novel foods and unique presentations.
  7. Grocery shopping is the time to choose healthy foods: fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese, whole grain breads and pitas, lean protein such as turkey, low-fat milk and eggs for hard-boiling.
  8. Halt high-fat and high-calorie snacking after school. Choose simple, healthy foods like milk and cereal, or apple slices and peanut butter instead.

By Carolyn Snyder, R.D., L.D., Cleveland Clinic Department of Nutrition Therapy