There are plenty of teaching opportunities during any given school day, but one of the most important could be during lunch time. One of the best things we can do for children is to teach them healthy eating habits early in life. As our nation’s obesity rate continues to rise, educating future generations of Mississippians is more important than ever.
Establishing healthy habits in kids can build a foundation for a healthy life. Healthy eating habits are some of the most important lessons you can teach your children at home and at school. A healthy, well-balanced lunch can promote academic achievement, ensure children have the right amount of nutrients and help sustain energy throughout the day.
This month, the Department of Health and Human Services is promoting the importance of healthy school lunch programs. In 2009, more than 31 million children received lunch through the National School Lunch Program and it is more important than ever to make school lunches nutritious. Here are some tips to promote healthy food choices at school:
- Look at the lunch menu together and help kids identify healthier choices.
- If you are unsure about the nutritional quality of the lunch at your child’s school, pack one for them. Fresh fruit, raw veggies, and a turkey or peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread with low-fat milk is a good example of a healthy, balanced lunch.
- Encourage schools to include healthier items and swap them for less healthy foods like French fries, pizza and others high in saturated fat and sodium.
The KidsHealth website from Nemours offers 10 Steps to a Great Lunch and other suggestions for you and your child to help make smart choices when it comes to lunch.