This has been a busy week around the office! I usually try to take my vacation this week so I can avoid the craziness, but no such luck this year… You see, families with school-aged children are trying to get those last minute check-ups done before the school year begins.
This leaves me asking the standard list of questions at each appointment. Here are a few examples:
- “How much time do you spend in front of a screen (TV/computer/video game) every day?” (Less than two hours a day is the right answer.)
- “Do you brush your teeth at least twice a day?” (You’d be surprised how many kids go to school in the morning with unbrushed teeth! Really.)
- And, “Do you take or buy your lunch?”
The lunch question is more important than you might think. School lunch programs are designed to provide nutritious lunches, right? In theory, that’s true. In reality, it just doesn’t happen. Having my own two kids attend public schools, I have seen the menus and eaten at the school cafeterias. I’m sorry, but I would really like to see the nutrition facts for the Salisbury steak or the beef enchilada plate sometime. Color me skeptical.
And, it’s no surprise to me that kids who eat school lunches are more likely to be overweight. According to a 2010 study from the University of Michigan, school lunch buyers eat more fatty meat, drink sugary beverages, and eat fewer fruits and veggies than kids who pack their lunch. The problem: healthy food choices may be in the lunch line, but that’s not what the kids are selecting.
So, our job as parents is to A) make sure kids make healthy food choices in the lunch line and/or B) pack a healthy lunch for them. Better yet, let your child help pack his lunch.
And when you pack that lunch, aim for fresh food instead of prepackaged stuff. Pack up an apple or banana instead of fruit cocktail or mandarin oranges. Offer raw carrots and lowfat ranch dressing instead of a side of chips with that sandwich. And, give a water bottle or lowfat milk as a drink. Trust me, it can be done.
Yes, it takes some planning and grocery shopping. And yes, we are all very busy people. But, it takes less than 10 minutes before bedtime to pack a nutritious lunch.
And as an aside, your child only needs to wake up about 2 minutes earlier in the morning to guarantee those teeth get brushed before school.
Get a fresh start this school year!
What are your kids eating for lunch? Do you have any tips for putting together a nutritious and delicious lunch? Share your ideas with the Parenting Community.