While reading, writing, and arithmetic are key to a child's academic success, understanding the ABCs of good nutrition -- and a good lunch -- may be just as important. After all, what a child eats will serve as his or her primary source of fuel for the muscles AND the brain during the busy school day.
With obesity rates among children at their highest levels ever, experts are focusing on the importance of establishing good eating and exercise habits early, according to the
Wheat Foods Council. The Food Guide Pyramid provides the foundation for healthful, well-balanced eating and recommends choosing a variety of foods, including grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat. In fact, grain foods (also known as brain foods) form the base of the pyramid and are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, the best choice for fueling growing muscles and brains.
To make sure your child is setting the foundation for a healthy future, try these lunch-packing tips:
- Take your kids grocery shopping -- and use the time to talk about healthful eating. Find out what they are learning in school about nutrition and ask your child to apply that nutrition knowledge to their lunch selections. Be sure they include foods from each group, including grain foods such as bread, bagels, crackers, tortillas and even animal crackers.
- Expose your children to additional healthful foods one step at a time. We all know kids love white bread, but why not trying making a sandwich with one piece of enriched white bread and one piece of whole grain bread? That way your child gets the best of both worlds -- iron, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and folic acid from the white bread and fiber and antioxidants such as vitamin E from the whole grain bread.
- Let your kids be the ones with the "cool" lunch that all the other kids want. Allow your kids to get a little creative and pack a non-traditional lunch on occasion. Dry cereal with a thermos of milk to add later, pasta salad or cracker stacker sandwiches they can make themselves are all great examples of healthful foods that will help fulfill your children's need for nutrition, energy and fun.
For great kids recipes check out Bella's Cooking for Kids site.
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