Children are notoriously picky eaters which means they may not always be getting all the nutrients they need to develop strong, healthy bodies. Why not kick off a healthy school year and take lunchtime to the next level? We’ve put together a list of ideas to inspire unique, balanced and healthy lunches.
Make Lunch Fun
Are your kids already dreading giving up their days by the pool for home work and history lessons? Make their lunch something to get excited about with colorful creations from home! Meredith Thivierge, a Johns Hopkins pediatric dietician, has these tips:
- Make lunches colorful! Fruits and veggies are bright and packed with nutrients that will give your child a healthy meal and even boost their brain!
- Add a note to their lunch box! Going back to school can be intimidating, especially for young children or those entering a new school for the first time. Send a little encouragement their way that will make them look forward to opening their lunch every day.
- Use a cookie cutter to make fun shapes out of sandwiches and other malleable foods.1 Especially for young children, food is fun! It’ll give them a cool treat to show to their friends and, who knows, you may even start a little trend at the lunch table!
Let Your Children Play Chef Too
Children are more likely to eat something if they helped make it and know exactly what it has in it. “Participation gives kids a sense of ownership,” said Thivierge.1 Try having them help pick out a recipe, choose ingredients while you’re grocery shopping, and include them while you make the meal!
Lunchtime Is Not Ideal for Exploring New Dishes
Definitely, encourage your children to try new foods, but maybe lunchtime away from home isn’t the best time for new foods. Introducing new fruits, veggies, tastes, and textures ensures they are getting the nutrients they need, but kids are more likely to explore when they’re at home. Kids are also more likely to skip over foods they don’t know so it may be best to save those foods for home when you can give them a little nudge.1
Use What You Know
PopSugar’s Amanda Morin reported from online mom community, Circle of Moms, that you should first explore what kind of picky eater your child is. It could be from actual dietary challenges, sensory issues, or simply stubbornness. If it is just your child being willful, it may be helpful to ask why they feel that way.2
A good rule-of-thumb for picky eaters is to prepare lunch meals from a list of the foods that you know your child will eat.1 You can even separate different ingredients into different containers so the foods don’t touch!
There’s More to Life Than Peanut Butter and Jelly
Adults get bored eating the same thing all the time, so why wouldn’t kids? Keep them on their toes with a little variety and try some simple meals outside of sandwiches.1
It’s also okay to balance the week out with lunches that you pack for your child and buying school lunch.1 You may, however, want to check and see what’s on their menu for the day!
Moderation is the Key
You don’t have to completely cut out the “bad stuff.” A sweet treat is perfectly fine in an ample serving amount occasionally. According to the American Heart Association, if a child never eat sweets, it is likely they will overeat when they do get them.3 Remember to lead by example! If your child sees that you have healthy and balanced eating habits, they are likely to pick up those same habits from watching you.3
Do you have any tips for moms with picky eaters? Share them in the comments below!
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