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Create school lunches with a slice of nutrition

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August is Back-to-School Month, and not coincidentally, it’s also Kids Eat Right Month. To help your kids continue to eat healthy while at school, SIU School of Medicine registered dietitian Cheryl Burns answered some common questions parents have about packing their kids’ lunches.   

How do I prep a lunch for a picky eater?  

Involve your child in the choices.  Have your kids pick the fruit and vegetables for lunches while at the grocery store, then when packing the meal, offer a couple choices. This lets them have some control of the meal.  Try to include one item they like when you’re adding a new item for them to try.

How can I get my kids involved in packing?

In addition to picking out some of their meal, kids can wash fresh fruit or make a sandwich by adding the ingredients between the slices of bread.

Can certain foods boost my child’s energy or performance during the school day? 

A healthy protein food, like meat, egg or dairy products, will boost brainpower and make kids more alert in school. Some examples are turkey, chicken, boiled egg, cheese, milk, pudding and yogurt. Fruits and vegetables also help with supporting the immune system.

What types of drinks are best to pack?

Read the drink’s label to look for added sugars in drinks that can easily go over the daily recommendation of no more than 3-4 teaspoons (12-16 grams) per day. This amount doesn’t include natural sugars like those found in fruit and milk.  

Do you have any tips for packing the lunch bag? 

Use an insulated lunch bag or lunch box to be sure that perishable foods will stay cold. Include a small frozen cold pack. A frozen pouch or box of juice will keep food cold too.   

For more information, visit www.kidseatright.org.

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