Do you have a youngster who’s a picky eater? You know the type. All they want are carbs, like frozen bagels or french fries. They turn their nose up at anything you call “healthy.” Worst of all they never want to eat what you have prepared for dinner. This makes packing your child’s lunch a real challenge.
Here are 4 healthy guidelines to consider when packing your child’s lunch, just don’t tell them they’re healthy!
Guideline # 1 – Shh, Don’t Use The Word Healthy
We all know that certain kids will resist whatever we suggest. Then there are those who will do exactly the opposite when we tell them to avoid something like sweets, for example. Since we are (supposed to be) way smarter than our little ones, it’s best to keep admonitions or suggestions to a minimum.
Instead, give them a few choices to pick from as lunch staples. Never under any circumstance use the word healthy. You can make them feel like they are sort of “in charge,” even though we adults really know that’s not the case. No guilt allowed here!
Guideline # 2 – Let Kids Pick From Nutritious Assortments
Another word to avoid is nutritious. We want our kids to eat healthy and nutritious foods without them necessarily knowing they are doing so. They need food that will support their energy level and cognitive needs. In other words, we don’t want them to fall asleep at 1:30 in the afternoon.
Protein is a fuel we all need. Things like poultry, eggs, meats, fish, cheese should be included in their lunch bag in some form. Give them choices like: turkey slices or baked ham, hard boiled eggs and cheese, or left over chicken or chicken fingers.
Whole grains should be added to every lunch. Maybe it’s whole grain bread, a muffin, or whole wheat tortilla.
Don’t forget fruits and veggies. Keep a mix of fresh fruits available so they can pick what they feel like eating that day. Just like you have days you want a pear vs a banana, so do kids. If your child turns their nose up at veggies, keep them colorful. Carrot sticks, red bell pepper sticks or cucumber slices can be mixed and matched. Add a ranch dip and make it even more fun to eat.
The more choices you give them, the more they will feel involved and actually eat their lunch.
Guideline # 3 – Treats Should Be Embraced
Don’t leave out a sweet treat. We all need one once in a while. The only rule could be that they must at least eat some of each item before the treat. You will be able to tell whether they are being responsible by what they bring home uneaten.
A small package of popcorn, a cookie, some pretzels, or a mini cupcake are a treat but not overdone. Their treat can be a surprise each day and make them look forward to lunchtime.
Guideline # 4 – Be Flexible
Are there some dinner entrees that your kids devour? There’s nothing wrong with having leftovers for lunch. For example, if they love your spaghetti and meatballs, or ravioli, wrap up the leftovers in an insulated pouch. Voila! There’s the next day’s lunch.
Your goal is to provide lunch options that they will eat every day. It should be healthy and nutritious, but try not to become the food police at the same time. As they grow, they will be more willing to try new types of food, so hang in there.
If you’re experiencing difficulty in getting your child to eat on a normal schedule, or have questions about how to help them become less interested in sweets, contact Elmwood Pediatric Group today!