School is back in full swing and life has, once again, become a balancing act. Between work, home, and the activities of each family member, meals are one part of daily life that often falls by the wayside.
Being mindful of this, carefully choosing to be a good example and setting children up for a lifetime of healthy eating is extremely important. It is even more important if your child expends a lot of energy in sports such as competitive swimming. Energy out needs healthy and long-lasting energy in.
While it doesn’t seem like a large task at first, making healthy and fun lunches day in and day out can become overwhelming and turn into boxes and bags of processed snacks and unhealthy foods.
“Resist the temptation to buy large boxes of high-fat cookies, chips, nuts, chocolate, etc. If it’s not in your home you’ll be less tempted to eat it,” said Susan Boegman, a registered dietician with Canadian Sport Institute Pacific.
“Have healthier options available: fresh fruit and cheese, small handfuls of dried fruit and raw nuts or seeds, popcorn.”
While it is important to instill a love for healthy food into children, Boegman believes it is just as important to stress that we are human, and it is all about balance.
“No one can eat absolutely perfect all the time. Try not to avoid specific foods unless there is a medical reason,” she said.
“Avoid negative food, body and diet talk. Rather, discuss foods as a way to take care of yourself and choose foods to nourish your body.”
When building a healthy and satisfying lunch box parents should remember to include items from these five food groups:
Dairy– yogurt, cheese sticks, or a carton of milk are easy to grab.
Vegetables– raw celery or broccoli and dip or a variety of cooked veggies in a stir-fry.
Fruit– healthy fruit salad, unsweetened applesauce, or a container of fruit sliced and ready to eat.
Protein– fresh Canadian chicken on a sandwich or in a salad is always a healthy option.
Grains- whole-wheat is the best option when choosing breads, wraps, crackers, or pastas.
While it is a parent’s job to ensure healthy food is readily available for their children each day, Boegman believes building meals should be a family affair.
“Make sure to enlist your kids’ help as well. Give them the task of helping to plan and prepare. Once invested kids will surprise you!”
If you need a few ideas to jazz up your child’s lunch box (which should be a cooler type bag with an ice pack inside to keep lunches safe) why not try these Canadian chicken ideas?
Make It Chicken For Lunch!:
- BBQ chicken pizza and carrots (use ranch dressing as a dip for both).
- Pita pockets jam packed with fresh Canadian chicken breast, cheese, and spinach (avoid those processed lunch meats).
- A thermos full of homemade chicken noodle soup (you prepare it so you know what goes into it).
- Whole-wheat pasta loaded with chicken and veggies like broccoli and peppers.
- Chicken Caesar salad with a side of garlic toast.
Parents wanting more information on their child’s nutrition needs can visit the following websites:
For sport needs:
For basic nutrition information:
Clarissa Andersen is an everyday woman, mom, writer and fitness enthusiast passionate about helping people live healthier and happier lives.