Smyrna nurse offers tips for packing healthy school lunches

Delaware State News
Posted 10/7/22

With the school year in full swing, Amy Burnett, who works at the Bayhealth Wellness Center at Smyrna High School, is sharing some tips for parents and students who plan to pack their lunches, rather than eating school-provided meals.

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Smyrna nurse offers tips for packing healthy school lunches

Posted

With the school year in full swing, Amy Burnett, who works at the Bayhealth Wellness Center at Smyrna High School, is sharing some tips for parents and students who plan to pack their lunches, rather than eating school-provided meals.

  • Meal-prepping may seem time-consuming but, in the end, will be more efficient for busy parents. Create a space in your kitchen for a lunch-packing station. Make grab-and-go portions in advance. In the fridge, consider having a selection of pre-cut carrot sticks, cucumbers, celery, oranges, melon, grapes, berries, snap peas, pepper strips, cherry tomatoes, cheese sticks and yogurt in stock.
  • Give your child healthy food options and include them in your shopping. Some ideas include dark chocolate-covered raisins, air-popped popcorn, homemade granola bars or sweet potato or kale chips.
  • Bento boxes will allow you to portion veggies, fruits, dairy and grains appropriately. They provide a variety of smaller portions, which gives your child more options at lunch. This takes the pressure off your kids having to eat the entire main component of their lunch (like their whole sandwich) and often results in them trying new things.
  • Provide a rainbow of foods. It’s important to limit foods that are processed or have artificial flavoring, preservatives, high-fructose corn syrup or dyes. Packing fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors not only expands the number of vitamins and antioxidants in their diet but is more visually appealing — tempting them to try new foods and complete their food rainbow.
  • Make some healthy swaps: white bread for wheat or organic options. Avoid deli meats with nitrates. Provide plain milk, water or low-calorie Gatorade instead of juice boxes, which contain a large amount of sugar.
  • Provide a balance of protein, fruits, vegetables and dairy to choose from. Think outside the box and expose your children at a young age to foods such as hummus, avocados, cottage cheese, nuts and seeds (if not allergic) and hard-boiled eggs.
  • Leftovers can be a great addition to a lunch. If there is a food that needs to be kept warm, purchase a container that will keep food hot until lunch. You can pack healthy options that your child loves, such as soups or a leftover meal.

Educating children when they are young about the relationship between healthy food choices and physical activity is imperative for them to grow into healthy adults. Eating healthy will boost their immune systems, strengthen their bones and lower the risk of developing heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Obesity among children is a serious concern, with more children developing diabetes. As parents, we need to be proactive in helping our children make choices to reverse this trend.

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