It's that time of year again, and if you pack school lunches 5 days a week, it is just the beginning of this particular job that can be just a teeny tiny bit monotonous. (To put it mildly!)
Whenever I do any lectures on kids and food, concerns about lunch and school come up. I figured it would be a good time of year, to put these common concerns along with some tips, out there. Feel free though to write me or send comments about your own particular worries, or questions, and I will be happy to continue this conversation.
1) My kids' school won't allow nuts or peanut butter; what can I give them that they might eat?
Edamame, hummus, and of course turkey and cheese are great protein alternatives if your kid will eat them.
2) My kid never seems to eat their lunch; they always come home with their lunchbox full, or they will only eat the treat.
Don't sweat this one. Many kids are way to excited and busy at lunchtime to focus on the food. They are distracted, socializing, thinking about who is sitting with whom. Capitalize on their hunger which is always massive right after school. Bring them a turkey sandwich, stop off for chicken rice and beans, basically in a word, if they are hungry feed them real food. Otherwise they will be snacking until dinner and not want to eat what you serve them in the evening. Focus less on needing to eat dinner type food at dinner and if they aren't that hungry, they can eat cereal or yogurt.
3) My kid is a really picky eater and doesn't like to eat much at once. How do I make sure they eat enough?
IF they are really picky and won't try new things, let them have the same thing every single day. Don't sweat it. Regarding amounts, think smaller; half a sandwich, a burrito, a yogurt and fruit with whole wheat crackers. A piece of cheese. Let them also portion out their own food, so they are feeling like they have some control over the amount of food they are eating. They will be more likely to ask for more. Most of the time, picky eaters are still getting what they need, and they grow out of it. They are probably eating just right for their appetite and body.
4) My kid always eats the other kids' treats. They have Ring Dings, and I want him to stay away from that kind of junk food.
You can't protect your child from the junk world. What you can do is teach him how to balance junk food with healthy food that does good things for his body. Let him pick his favorite junk food and figure out when he wants to have it; limit it to once a day but he gets to pick when. Perhaps he can bring in his own Ring Dings and trade them for the apple if it isn't forbidden and overvalued in his mind.
Teaching your kid balance and thinking through their own food decisions will arm them to eat well for life. Try not to sweat the small stuff, and don't get obsessive about healthy food.
Happy school starting!!
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