Back to School! Ideas For A Healthy Lunch!

by Jon Gustin

Depending on whether or not you’re a parent, teacher, sun addict or pumpkin spice lover, summer is almost over and school is back in session! You’re either extremely happy or utterly sad about this! I just want to take a moment to appreciate all of you teachers out there who work so hard for our growing children. You are truly making the world a better place with your knowledge and direction to our youth. You work off of sheer passion for what you do and clearly don’t get compensated enough for it. This is just my two cents and I will always show my appreciation for what you guys do year after year. I hope that will encourage you this school year! I know sometimes this can be a hard time, considering well, that kids can be (insert synonym for monsters). 

Normally we give you suggestions on how you, the adult, can become healthier. This time I’m going to give ideas on how the kids can become healthier! Now if you aren’t a parent, you can still use these ideas for yourself. For example, as I give suggestions for school lunches you can definitely use them for snack ideas or maybe for your own lunches. Don’t stop reading just because you don’t have children. There’s still some valuable information here for you!

I don’t think I really need to go into how bad most school lunches are for our kids. I know there are some programs that are providing schools with healthier options, but most are probably less than par. Usually they are providing starchy, high sugar options full of bad fats and little to no nutritional value. I will say from experience that my studies suffered severely due to my diet growing up. I wasn’t informed properly that it wasn’t normal to have mood swings and fluctuations in my energy levels as a 14 year old. I think there is a little more awareness these days but obesity and ADD are still very rampant in our youth. Just because younger individuals can sometimes “get away” with more, does not mean we shouldn’t promote health in our kids. I always hear how hard it is for parents to get their kids to eat healthy foods. I am not asking you to force your children to eat peas, carrots and broccoli every day. I still hate those vegetables as an adult and don’t blame any adolescent or toddler to spit that crap out! What I am asking you is to stop pumping them full of sugar and carbohydrates with no nutritional value or fiber.

WHAT A SCHOOL LUNCH SHOULD HAVE:

PROTEIN

This is usually the hardest thing for adults to get in their diet, let alone children. I think it comes down to the knowledge of what foods are high in protein and the options you may have. Below I’m going to list some great options for all categories so you can make a decision on what fits your children the best. If they hate it, scratch it off the list. Don’t force them. In my opinion it just makes it worse and they’ll find ways to get other options for their lunch, usually unhealthy options. Protein is very necessary for their muscle and bone growth including a slew of weight management benefits. They aren’t bodybuilders so they don’t need a ton but around 10g per meal would be a great starting point.

FRUIT

This is usually an easy one for kids to get on board with. No it’s not even remotely close to sugar you find in candy and is definitely not processed the same. Why? Nutrients and fiber that are only found in fruit AKA anything with seeds in it. Avocado and tomatoes are definitely fruit if anybody is wondering. Fruit provides energy, blood sugar stabilization and usually cures their urge to snack on high sugar options. 

COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES 

What makes a carbohydrate complex? Fiber. Also when served with a healthy fat, can also become complex. A high fiber bread with peanut butter would be an example of this. I am not opposed to pb&j if its not slathered in jelly and not on a low fiber bread like Wonder Bread. Carbohydrates are extremely important for children because they tend to be a lot more active than us adults. It’s just providing them with the correct options. Again, check out the list below for a list of options.

Providing your child with a healthy lunch is a balance of healthy food that they enjoy and a little “treat.” A Fruit Roll Up is not what I would call a good option but Goldfish may be. Sometimes a small cookie will suffice as well. As far as cost goes, I know some of you may have multiple children and are thinking this is going to make your grocery bill increase. What I suggest is to try out some different, healthier options and see if that’s true. Too many times I see parents spend all their money on Lunchables, puddings, crackers, fruit juices, and other foods that are ruining your kids attention spans. To expand on that, I am a huge proponent of not giving your kids high sugar drinks. Fruit juices, organic or not, are not good for children. Not to say they can never have them, I just wouldn’t provide them every day. The juice is stripped of fiber and actually does act like candy in your children's blood sugar levels.

Below is a list of the categories I listed above and will hopefully help you in developing a great lunch for your young ones. Feel free to copy and paste into another document, print, and take with you to the grocery store. Nutrition is so important for developing minds and let’s give our wonderful teachers a break from the sugar rush and then crash that ensues after lunch break!


KIDS LUNCH IDEAS

Proteins

Fruits

Nuts

Veggies

Carbs

Treats

Boiled Eggs

Apple Slices

Almonds

Baby Carrots

Dry Cereal (fiber)

Graham Crackers

Deviled Eggs

Applesauce

Cashews

Cucumber Slices

Goldfish Crackers

Granola Bar

Ham

Apricots, dried

Peanuts

Edamame

Pasta

Cookie

Lunchmeat

Avocado

Pistachios

Celery Sticks

Pita

Fruit Snacks

Meatballs

Tomatoes

Pumpkin Seeds

Bell Pepper Strips

Garbonzo Beans

Trail Mix

Peanut Butter

Banana

Sunflower Seeds

Olives

Pretzels

Yogurt Covered Raisins

Jerky

Banana Chips

Pickles

Rice Cakes

Homemade Bars

Shredded Chicken

Blueberries

Sweet Potatoes

Whole Grain Crackers

Brownie

Taco Meat

Cantaloupe

Mushrooms

Veggie Straws

Their Favorite Cereal

Cottage Cheese

Cherries

Grapes

Zucchinni Slices

Popcorn

Yogurt

Honeydew

Salad

Naan Bread

String Cheese or Cheese Cubes

Kiwi Slices

Rice

Tuna

Orange Wedges

Waffles (fiber)

Hot Dogs

Peaches

Tortilla Chips

Hamburger Patty

Pears

Bagel Chips

Pineapple

Bread (fiber)

Raspberries

Pretzel thins

Strawberries

Apple Chips

Raisins

Beans


*These are not the ONLY options just the best options I could think of.

*Fiber is just reminding you to get a high fiber option. A choice with more than 2g per serving.

 

www.burtonnutrition.com USE CODE FB10 for 10% OFF!