Healthy School Lunches: Make the Most Out of Lunch
The results are in: being a parent is tricky business. Many of our team members know from experience. Making healthy school lunches is just one of many tough tasks for which parents are responsible. For many of us, we can barely find the time to make school lunches at all – how are we supposed to make them healthier?
No need to worry.
Educating yourself is the first step, and you’re doing that right now! Here at Nebraska Family Dentistry, we know that good oral health is a major component of optimal overall health. For that reason, we’d like to offer some information on why healthy school lunches matter.
The Silent Enemy of American Health
While millions of dollars are poured into health solutions and research each year, Americans are still among the least healthy in the world. Whatever it is that makes us unhealthy seems to be silently lurking in the background. So what is it?
You can probably come up a list of your own, but we know of one enemy in particular that hides in every American home. The sad thing? Most people already know how bad it can be, and it’s still wreaking havoc. We’re talking about something so common, you’ve probably had a considerable amount within the past hour.
Sugar makes up a massive portion of the American diet. In spite of its deadly good taste, it is horrible for oral and overall health. A growing body of research has linked sugar intake to inflammation within the body. This inflammation affects our vital organs drastically.
The following infographic contains a handful of facts that will put American sugar consumption into perspective for you. It was originally published at www.onlinenursingprograms.com (which is no longer a website) and was republished by Forbes. And parents: if you’re feeling guilty by this point, don’t worry! We believe you can change. And if you already know sugar is bad and are looking for solutions, there is more information beneath the infographic.
Playing a Role in The Solution
Sugar is bad. We all knew that before, and now we’re simply more convinced. So what can you do?
When it comes to keeping yourself healthy, positivity is key. Remind yourself that you’re living in the solution! As much as we harp on sugar, it doesn’t mean a thing unless we do something about it. And while eliminating sugar is beyond the scope of healthy school lunches, it’s a huge step to just improve your child’s nutrition.
Some of the most common problems with sugar come from juices, soft drinks, and candy. Avoid keeping these in the house and you won’t have the option to pack them in your child’s lunch. The occasional sugar splurge isn’t going to hurt you, but regular consumption might. Because of that, keeping it away from the house will help you avoid it at home.
What are some common hidden sources of sugar in our kids’ everyday diets?
- Sports drinks
- Chicken nuggets
- Canned fruit
- Pop tarts
You can also check labels for sources of hidden sugar, such as:
- Mean Table Sugar
- Brown Sugar
- Raw Sugar
- Turbinado Sugar
- Honey (even raw)
- Maple Sugar
- Corn Sweetener
- Dextrose, Glucose
- Fructose and any other word that ends in an “ose”
- Barley Malt
- Rice Syrup
- Liquid Cane Sugar
- Concentrated Fruit Juice and others
Don’t be fooled by the name organic when it applies to sugar. Sugar is sugar, organic or not. All of the above names are names that can appear on labels, but they ALL mean sugar and ALL will cause the inflammatory effects in sugar when consumed in large quantities.
How Healthy School Lunches Can Change the Game
While you’re at work, your child spends their entire day in school. For most children, lunch is the only meal they’ll eat at school. If that’s the case, healthy school lunches will have an enormous impact on your child’s nutrition. And if you want to have this impact, you’ll need to prepare a little.
Pack lunches early, and you’ll have more freedom to make the most out of lunch. It doesn’t need to take long, but take the extra time to make fun, healthy snacks. Similarly, use your home to experiment a little, using the foods your child already likes.
Having conversations with your child is an often-overlooked part of this preparation. Educating your kids is a helpful tool. And even if your child doesn’t take to your ideas at first pass, they’ll often agree in the long run. Be kind in your approach, and your information will go a long way!
Extra Tips for Packing Healthy School Lunches
While it’s essential to have a general overview of basic nutrition, it’s equally helpful to have a few tangible tips. You can make your child any lunch you want, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that they’ll eat it. Here we’ve compiled some helpful tips from our team members that will you help make healthy school lunches a regular part of your child’s life.
What foods will have less sugar and make healthy school lunches?
Fruits, Vegetables, Baked Meat, Hard-Boiled Egg, Beans
Invite your kids to help you make lunch.
It’s basic human motivation to be more invested in something you contributed to. The same principle applies with your child’s lunch. If you invite them to help you make their lunch, you’ll see two major benefits: 1. Your child will be much more likely to eat the foods they packed, and 2. They’ll learn how to pack their own lunches, saving you time as they grow up. If you give them options within the “healthy food” spectrum, they’ll choose the most appealing one and will actually eat their food.
Download nutrition or meal-planning apps to supplement your knowledge.
The modern world is full of resources that often go unnoticed. If you use a smartphone, you can look at the App Store or Play Store to see tons of nutrition-based apps. Apps like MyFitnessPal and FatSecret can help you count calories, sugar intake, and other useful nutrition facts in seconds.
Browse the internet as a resource.
While we’re on the topic of resources, be sure to check the web for healthy recipes. Today, more information is shared between people than ever before. Most of us haven’t gone a single day without scrolling through some kind of news feed and seeing recipe videos for clever food and drinks. Social networking websites like Pinterest and Facebook are a great tool. They’ll allow you to share your ideas, learn about others’ ideas, and the like. Use their potential as a tool to keep your kids healthy!
If you have any more questions about healthy school lunches, feel free to give us a call at 402-412-7141, or at any of our convenient locations. For more health and wellness tips, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram!