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Back to School: Packing Healthy Snacks for your Kids

8/26/2015

With the end of summer upon us, it is time to get back to routine. This means starting to get your children on a healthy track in school. Kids spend half of their day outside of the house between school and extra activities, so it is important to maintain their healthy habits. Let’s begin with packing their lunch and snacks to school:

The sandwich:

Try to choose whole wheat bread when possible, children can start eating this too for extra fiber and vitamins, it’s not just diet food! Mix it up with the kind of bread so your child doesn’t get bored, add in their favorite veggies, and surprise them with a new ingredient such as avocadoes.

Add protein:

There are different ways to include protein into the sandwich, besides meat and chicken. Turkey, labneh, and tuna are great choices. There are also different kinds of nut butters available (as long as your child doesn’t have an allergen), such as peanut butter or almond butter. Hommos is also abundantly available and makes a great protein option. Protein helps keep your child full longer and is important for their growth.

Avoid packaged and processed food:

Limit the croissants, packed muffins, chocolates and junk food. These are empty calories and will not provide any nutrition for your child. Let’s face it, your child might choose to spend their money to buy a chocolate bar at school on their own. However, buying it every now and then is not the same as packing junk food and making it available daily in the lunch box.

Choose healthy sides:

Cheese slices

Crackers

Dried fruit such as raisins

Apple slices, strawberries...

Raw nuts

Baby Carrots and vegetable slices

Low fat yogurt

These are healthier side options instead of chips, oreos, and gummy bears.

The healthy drink

Don’t forget to pack water, low fat milk or milkshakes, 100% fresh fruit juice. Bottled fruit juice, fruit flavors, and sodas will all add a high amount of sugar.

Involve your kids:

Let your kids feel like their in control by allowing them to choose what they want packed in their lunches. Give them healthy food choices to choose from. Remember, it is their lunch, that way they are more likely to eat their meals.

**Food Safety: Remember to be safe and pack foods at the right temperature and in closed containers.

 Get back to routine:

1- Encourage Exercise: Keep your child active by signing them up for an afterschool activity that involves sports. On the weekend choose a family activity that involves some exercise. Remember, exercise is a big part of staying healthy among kids to avoid risks of obesity. Your child is still growing and limiting food should be considered carefully, therefore keep your child active to avoid weight gain.

2- Healthy snacks at home: When healthy snacks are available at home kids are more likely to eat healthy. Keep healthy options such as fresh fruits and fruit salad, yogurt with fruits such a parfait, or a home-made fruit smoothie.

3- Family time=meal time: Eating as a family will allow your children to pick up your healthy habits, after all you are their role models. Research has shown families who eat together around the table have more nutritious meals. Traditional Lebanese foods involve a lot of healthy combinations, therefore at meal time your child will have a well-balanced meal. 

Author: Massar Dabbous


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