Healthy Lunches for Children

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					      Healthy Lunches for Children
                                                        • Involve your children in grocery shopping and
Good                     Good
Nutrition
                 =       Learning
                                                          planning their lunch.
                                                        • Let your children make their own lunch, choosing
                                                          foods from Canada’s Food Guide..
Children want lunches that taste good and keep them
full, and parents want a healthy meal for their         • Add interest by combining new foods with old
growing, active children. Children learn and focus        favourites.
better when they eat foods from the four food groups    • Everyone enjoys a surprise. How about a secret
in Canada’s Food Guide. Nutritious lunches and snacks          note, sticker or cartoon with lunch?
are best when they are tasty, handy, fun to                      • Take time after dinner to prepare a healthy
eat, and safe from bacteria.                                      lunch with your children for the next day.

What is a                                                         “My children eat the same food
                                                                   every day!”
healthy lunch                                                       Your children are developing their tastes
for children?                                                        and may be very choosy about what
                                                                      they will eat. The more often they see
Include a variety of foods from at                                     new foods, the more likely they will
least three of the four food                                            taste them and learn to accept them.
groups: Vegetables & Fruit, Grain                                        Don’t give up if your children refuse a
Products, Milk and Alternatives, and                                     new food. Sometimes it takes up to
Meat and Alternatives. Children are                                       12 attempts before a new food is
eating too much fat, sugar, and salt,                               accepted. Help your children to accept a
and not enough vegetables, fruit, milk                  wider selection of foods by:
products and whole grain foods. Unhealthy lunches       • Being a role model. Set an example by trying new
at school are part of the problem.                        foods yourself.
                                                        • Offering small amounts of the new food with a
Preparing a healthy lunch                                 familiar one.

for your children
                                                         80% of children are eating lunch at school;
No meal is a good meal if it is not eaten. Work
                                                         it is important that the foods they eat keep
together with your children to make a tasty and
                                                         them healthy and help them learn.
healthy lunch that they will enjoy eating.
• Encouraging children to get to know                                         Beyond Sandwiches
  new foods by including them in                                               Sandwiches may be
  growing, buying, preparing or                                                  convenient, but they are not
  serving these new foods.                                                        the only way to have a
• Respecting that children have                                                   delicious, nutritious lunch.
  their own likes and dislikes.                                                   What about cold pasta
                                                                                 salad, a slice of pizza, a
“It’s just so easy to pick up                                                   chicken leg, a hard-boiled
something ready to go and                                                     egg or a bean burrito. Hot
pack it in the lunch bag!”                                                 soups, stews, chili, baked beans
Convenience foods are expensive and                                   or spaghetti can also be carried to
high in fat, sugar and salt. It may be                              school in a wide mouth thermos.
the fancy packaging that interests your
children, so try packing healthier foods in
                                                                     Vegetables and Fruit
fun packages. Try coloured lunch bags or                             Include 1 to 2 servings of Vegetables
plastic containers, add stickers, special                            and Fruit in lunches for nutrient
napkins and colourful straws for drinks.                              needs, and to add colour, texture and
                                                                      flavour to the meal. Choose dark
Check out page 4 for ideas to help you                                green and orange choices such as
pack healthier lunches.                                               green pepper rings, broccoli florets,
                                                      baby carrots, diced cantaloupe and mango pieces.
Jazz up that Sandwich                                 Fruit makes a great finish to lunch, whether it is
• Look for different types of whole grain bread or    fresh, canned in its own juices or in light syrup.
  try two different types of bread
  in a sandwich. Sliced turkey                        Beverages
  may be tastier on                                   Even drinks can help make a lunch healthy.
  pumpernickel, multi-
                                                        Try water – a thermos filled with cold tap water
  grain or whole wheat
                                                           or a refillable container is a great idea.
  bread. Crusty rolls,
  bagels, rice cakes,                                       Choose milk! Children who drink milk at
  crackers, English                                         lunch are more likely to meet their daily
  muffins or pita bread                                    calcium needs. Chocolate milk is just as
  all add variety.                                           nutritious as white milk and provides lots of
                                                              energy plus 15 essential nutrients. Chocolate
• Try combinations of
                                                                milk contains about the same amount of
  sandwich fillings to
                                                                  sugar as an equal amount of 100%
  give new flavours
                                                                   orange juice.
  to old ideas:
 - Canned light                                                    100% Juice has some vitamins but no
   tuna with sliced                                               fibre, so have vegetables and fruit more
   apples and raisins                                           often than juice. When choosing juice, look
                                                      for labels that say “100% fruit juice.” When the label
 - Lower-fat cheese with cucumber slices              says drink, beverage, ade, cocktail or delight, the
 - Egg salad with grated carrot, diced green pepper   product contains mostly sugar and water.
   and chopped celery
 - Cottage cheese or ricotta cheese with orange        Check to see if your children’s school has
   segments                                            a milk program and sign up so that they
 - Hummus with roasted red pepper pieces               can have milk at school every day.
                                                       refrigerator. To keep hot foods hot, use an
Snack Time                                             insulated bottle or thermos. First, fill it with
Snacks are important because                           boiling water and let it stand for a few minutes.
children cannot eat as much                                  Then empty the bottle and fill it with the hot
food as an adult can at any                                     food.
one time. Your children need                                        • Only use fresh foods or leftovers
a good supply of energy and                                         which are not more than one day old.
nutrients to play, grow and
                                                                    • Clean lunch boxes, thermal bags,
learn. As often as possible,
                                                                    plastic containers and all utensils
the snacks that go to school
                                                                    every day in hot, soapy water. Do not
with lunch should pack lots of
                                                                    re-use wrappings, as they may carry
nutrition in quick, tasty bites.
                                                                    bacteria.
Fruit, vegetables, cheese,
                                                                    • Wash all vegetables and fruit well
milk, yogurt, muffins,
                                                                    under cold running tap water.
breadsticks, whole grain
crackers or plain popcorn are
all great snacks. Limit cake,                                      Lunches for a
granola bars and cookies, since
they tend to be high in fat and sugar. Choose foods                Happy Planet
from the four food groups in Canada’s Food Guide.     • Use cloth or nylon bags, thermal bags or lunch
                                                        boxes, instead of paper or plastic bags.
Keeping Lunch Safe                                    • Use reusable plastic containers for sandwiches and
                                                        other lunch foods.
A healthy lunch is also a safe lunch.
                                                            • Pack metal spoons or forks for lunches
• Start with a clean counter, clean                                 instead of disposable plastic cutlery.
  fork or spoon, and freshly
  washed hands.                                                       • Try a thermos, plastic cup or
                                                                          reusable water bottle with a
• Foods that might spoil                                                    tight-fitting lid for beverages.
  should be carried in
  an insulated bag to                                                         • Include a washable cloth
  keep them cold.                                                             napkin – maybe in a
                                                                               different colour each day –
• To keep food cold,                                                           instead of using paper
  use frozen bread                                                             products.
  for sandwiches,
  pack a frozen juice                                                         • Buy local fruits and
  box or freezer pack                                                         vegetables in season as
  with the lunch.                                                             much as possible. Try to
                                                                             buy only as much as you
• Pack cold foods                                                            need to avoid wasting food.
  directly from the



 Reading Food Labels
 Read food labels and chose those products with as little saturated and trans fat as possible. Avoid
 products that are partially hydrogenated and contain vegetable shortening. Limit foods and beverages
 high in calories, fat, sugar or salt (sodium).
Adapted from material developed by Toronto Public Health, Peel Health Department and York Region Health Services.
For more information please call Toronto Health Connection at 416-338-7600 to speak with a Dietitian.
For additional issues of Nutrition Matters, refer to publications on our Web site at www.toronto.ca/health.




September 2007                                                                                                PH0707SS0102

				
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Description: Children want lunches that taste good and keep them full, and parents want a healthy meal for their growing, active children