Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pack a Healthful Sack Lunch Says Nutrition Specialist

“Back to School” time means it is also time to start thinking about what children eat during the school day according to Tammy Roberts, nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
“If your child takes their lunch to school, be sure to provide a healthful variety for them. What a child eats impacts their learning and behavior, as well as growth and development,” said Roberts.
When packing a healthy sack lunch, Roberts says the first step is to consider the container itself.
“Paper bags can sometimes get dropped and stepped on before the lunch hour. If you are sending things that need to be kept cold, an insulated bag may be the best choice. There is also a good selection of plastic and metal containers that will hold up well,” said Roberts.
A healthy school lunch should include a good source of protein, calcium, grains and a fruit or vegetable (or both). Since children have been known to trade food, Roberts says to be sure and send selections your child will not want to trade.
“It also helps if you let your child help make the decision about what goes in their lunch by letting them choose from a list of healthful foods,” said Roberts.
Children need whole grains too and according to Roberts, there is a whole grain white bread now. Other whole wheat choices could include crackers, pita and tortillas.
Protein foods could be a lean meat, tuna, or peanut butter. The possibilities for fruits and vegetables are endless. Yogurt and cheese are great calcium options but it is also easy to have children purchase low fat milk at school.
“There are ways you can get several food groups into one entrée,” said Roberts. “Try having a lean ham sandwich on a bagel with low fat cream cheese, grated carrots, and a slice of pineapple. Another possible option would be a pasta salad with cheese chunks, fresh vegetables, grapes and sunflower seeds.”
For more information on nutrition issues, go online to http://extension.missouri.edu or contact Tammy Roberts at (417) 682-3579.

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