What School Lunch Items Would Your Child Choose?

Lisa Diaz, Diabetes Manager, Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) empty calories from sugars and fats contribute to 40 percent of the calories ingested by children ages two to 18 every day. A recent CDC study also indicated that childhood obesity is still on the rise. These numbers shed light on the importance of parents having conversations with their kids about making healthy food choices, especially when kids are in the position of making those food choices when mom or dad isn’t around, such as the school cafeteria or play date with friends.

As parents, you can do your very best to have your children eat healthy and nutritious foods at home, but what happens when they are left to choose for themselves?

Try some of these tips and tricks when teaching your kids about the importance of nutritious and energizing meals:

Eat breakfast. On the run? Grab some quick and healthy breakfast foods on the way out the door that way your kids aren’t tempted to pick up a pastry on-the-go. Offer a peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread, fruit cup with yogurt or overnight oats in a cup.

Get creative. Have fun in the kitchen when at home with your kids and enlist their help to toss the salad, wash the veggies, organize the fruit platter and crack the eggs. This will not only serve as quality family time, it will also show your kids how fun it is to cook.

Model moderation. Show your children that it’s okay to have a treat now and then, as long as you’re eating a balanced, nutritious diet most of the time. If your child chooses a burger and fries one day for school lunch, encourage them to check out the salad bar the next day.

Sit down together. While preparing meals together is a great way to share healthy nutrition tips with your kids, eating together is also a great way to show your growing children that you enjoy the food prepared too. After all, if they see you doing something, they are more likely to repeat it. Sit down at the dinner table, learn more about your family, and show your kids that eating healthy is a lifestyle.

It is critical for parents to instill healthy eating habits into their children to reduce the risk of diabetes, obesity and a variety of other health problems. A solid foundation at home can lead to healthier choices being made while your child is at school.

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