Tips for Making Lunches and Snacks Healthy for Kids
Starting healthy eating habits early can help turn simple choices into a lifestyle. While breakfast and dinners are often family meals, snacks and lunches for children are typically more personalized. And guess what? Making snack time just as nutritional can be easy!
What makes a snack healthy?
Snacking can play a significant role in helping to meet your child’s nutritional needs. Registered Dietician Lynn Henderson advises parents to “think of a snack as an opportunity to fill in nutritional gaps instead of a time to eat cookies and chips.” Options for healthy snacks include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as well as sources of protein such as nuts, pumpkin seeds, string cheese and Greek yogurt.
How can I make healthy lunches?
Preparing healthy lunches for kids can begin with the containers you use. Give your child a say on the colors and themes of their next lunchbox or thermos to make lunch more fun. Varying the contents of these lunches with fruits, carbs, and protein, keeps lunchtime new and exciting. We also suggest cutting food items into fun shapes to make lunch even more appealing!
What are some easy ways to be successful in establishing healthy eating habits?
- Timing is important. Planning ahead and pre-portioning helps to ensure kids do not consume too many calories.
- Encourage your child to be involved in the process. Giving your children the opportunity to choose and try new foods can make healthier options feel more exciting. Assigning child-friendly tasks when preparing meals can also make them feel involved in their meal choices.
- Avoid distractions when eating. Children are less likely to recognize fullness when their attention is elsewhere, which can easily cause overeating or unhealthy binge eating habits.
Is rewarding children with food a healthy habit?
If done right, it can be a nifty trick to use, but be mindful of how much value you put on certain food items. Using sweets or unhealthy foods as a reward for good behavior can put more weight on these items, making them seem more valuable or desirable than other foods. Additionally, encouraging children to finish their meals so they can have dessert can associate healthier foods as something they have to consume instead of options they can enjoy.
Where can I find more information about healthy nutrition for my kids?
Culbertson Memorial Hospital’s nutrition consultants can provide education and counseling regarding healthy nutrition choices and lifestyles for all ages.