Back to school time is rapidly approaching, and in some parts of the country is already here. One of the hardest things for many parents is finding the time to not only pack their child's lunch, but pack a healthy one. It is very easy in the busy world we live in to not put the time into preparing a healthy lunch for your children. It can be a daunting thought to figure out what to pack day after day after day. However, choosing the right food can help boost their health, mood, concentration, and ultimately how well they perform in school.
Here are a few tips for packing a healthy lunch that are not complicated, expensive or time consuming.
1. Get you child involved in the process. Discuss with them the health benefits of a healthy, homemade lunch, and how it is fresher and tastes better than a packaged one. Set the food groups that they can choose from (healthy carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, and protein), and let them help to choose the combination.
2. Pack plenty of lean protein and healthy fats. Concentration can be a big problem with children at school, so avoid foods that contain sugar (especially processed sugar) to help prevent blood sugar spikes and crashes. Organic animal protein, avocados, hard boiled eggs, nuts, and healthy oils are filling, and great blood sugar stabilizers.
3. Avoid packing processed snacks like chips, cookies, candy bars, and even those sugar filled "energy" bars. They are just candy bars disguised as "health food". These foods can cause and/or contribute to symptoms of ADHD.
4. Buy organic whenever possible. Research has shown that even small amount of pesticides have been shown to have a significant effect on brain function. The easiest way to reduce pesticide exposure on a budget is to avoid those non-organic fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide levels. Those include apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, bell peppers, nectarines, cucumbers, tomatoes, and potatoes.
5. Stick with water. Most kids lunches not only are laden with unhealthy food, but are also topped off with a sugary drink. When it comes to kids or adults, don't drink your calories, especially when those calories come from sugar. Water is always your best choice when it comes to a drink. 100% juice drinks can be fine when consumed in moderation, but because they still contain a high amount of sugar, they should not be consumed daily.
In closing, the best idea when it comes to school lunch is to just keep it simple. Buy whole foods, buy those foods from a clean source, and keep your child's sugar intake to a minimum.