What your kids eat for breakfast and lunch has a huge impact on how well they do in school. Here are some tips to help you make healthy choices!
- Kids who eat breakfast do better in school, so wake up earlier and get them (and you) a healthy breakfast!
- A balanced breakfast includes the following: A whole grain (cereal, oatmeal, toast, bagel, waffle, pancake, or English muffin), fruit (frozen, fresh or applesauce), and a protein (egg, milk, yogurt, or peanut butter)
- Watch added sugars. Cereals and grains should have less than 10 g sugar per serving and choose lower sugar yogurt and fruit with no added sugar.
- Look for the word “whole” in the ingredient list of grains. Whole grain frozen pancakes and waffles are usually found in the “healthy” food section.
Healthy Breakfast examples:
- Bowl of shredded wheat with skim milk and a banana
- Whole wheat toast with peanut butter or whipped butter (in a tub), 1 egg, 6 strawberries, 1 c. skim milk
- 1-2 whole grain waffles, 2 tbsp light syrup, 1 c. skim milk, ½ c. blueberries
Lunch from home is almost always healthier-prepare the night before to help you manage time in the morning. A healthy lunch includes:
A whole grain (bread, pasta, tortilla, pita bread, crackers), Protein (lean meat, beans, edamame (green soybeans-kids love these), nuts or peanut butter, low-fat dairy), Veggies (raw or cooked), Fruit (100% juice, applesauce, or fresh fruit)
Limit added sugar and empty calories (snacks with little nutritional value). You should not totally deprive your kids either, but find a balance of healthy foods with a little fun food too. 4 out of 5 items in your kids lunch should be healthy foods.
Healthy Lunch Examples:
- Sandwich on whole grain bread with either peanut butter and jelly or lean deli meat (look for nitrate free, no preservatives), 8 baby carrots, 4 grape tomatoes, light ranch for dipping, fun water bottle filled with water
- 8 whole grain crackers, 2% cheese slices, 4 sugar snap peas, 4 celery sticks, 4 baby carrots, 4 grape tomatoes, light ranch for dipping, small apple with peanut butter for dipping, low fat milk
- ½ c. fat free refried beans, ¼ c. shredded 2% cheese-wrap in whole grain tortilla,, ½ c. grapes, ½ c. frozen peas, low fat milk
- Best options for small treats (If they have time to eat healthy food too, and don’t forget to choose only one!):
- 100 calorie packs (crackers, baked chips, craisins, goldfish, cookies)
- Fun size candy bar or small piece of chocolate (dark chocolate is best)
- Granola bar (kid size)
- 1 small bag fruit snacks or fruit roll up/fruit leather(they have these in the healthy food section made with 100% real fruit)
Remember, it is up to the parents to decide what is offered for meals and snacks, so you need to make it a priority to have healthy options available. This will help your kids do their best and build healthy habits starting now, and don’t forget to follow these recommendations yourself…kids do what their parents do more than what they say!
-Cassie Dimmick, MS, RD, LD, CSSD
Dietitian and Mom