Monday, October 12, 2009

Check your school's lunch program for nutritional content

From the desk of Erica Jannisch, CPNP

Studies show that students who eat healthy, well rounded meals perform better on tests, have better attendance and behave better at school.

Lunches are an important part of our children’s day. Typical school lunches tend to be higher in fat than they should be but that doesn't mean they can not be good options. Look at the menu the night before and determine if it offers a mix of the food groups. Every meal should have items from the fruit/vegetable group, grain group (preferably whole grain), low fat dairy, as well as some meat or other source of protein.

Many schools have transitioned to providing whole grain bread products. Some schools have whole grain pizza crust and most children can not taste the difference.

Always choose low fat milk or water for lunch.

If not 100% fruit juice, the juice provided at school is loaded with sugar and provides little nutritional value.

If the lunch menu for that day is not a good nutritional choice bringing a lunch can be a quick alternative. Allowing your child to have a choice in what they bring may ensure that they will eat the entire meal. Have them decide how they want their food groups represented in the lunch. An easy lunch can consist of whole grain raisin bread with peanut butter, pretzels, as well as a fruit and/or vegetable.

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