Healthy Lunchbox Toolkit
Use these helpful tips to make a healthy lunchbox for your child:
- Include a food from every major food group – dairy, fruit, vegetable, grain, protein.
- Let your child choose at least 1 healthy item for their lunchbox.
- Include at least 1 high fiber food.
- Limit to no more than 1 sugary snack.
- Avoid adding fruit punch or sodas and add low-fat or fat-free milk or 100% fruit juice instead.
- Offer a variety and try something new at least once per week.
A new school year signals the unofficial end of summer as kids everywhere head back to the classroom. As we get back in to the school year schedule, it’s easy to become busy and forget to focus on being healthy. So, make sure these healthy habits are included as you make your child’s back to school checklist!
Parents have an important role in helping kids eat healthy, so be sure you are setting a positive example by making healthy choices. Family meals are an excellent time to practice eating healthy together. Preparing and eating at home can limit excess fat, sodium and sugar, which can all lead to a variety of health issues. Getting kids involved in grocery shopping and meal preparation can also reinforce healthy eating habits and encourage your kids to try new healthy foods.
If your child takes his or her lunch to school, be sure it includes items like whole grain bread, all-natural lean meat for sandwiches and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Click here for a sample meal plan for a week of school lunches. If your child doesn’t like some of the healthier foods options, take some of the foods they like and offer alternatives. You can start by swapping traditional, fried potato chips with baked chips or veggie crisps. If they like peanut butter and jelly on white bread, make the switch to all-natural peanut butter on whole grain bread with a real fruit spread. However, if your child chooses to eat at school, look at the menu together and identify the healthiest options. The Mississippi Department of Education recently announced plans to make school lunches healthier by including more fresh fruits and vegetables and adding more whole grains, emphasizing an overall healthier meal.
Busy classrooms can make it difficult for schools to spend extra time on physical activity during the day. While your child may be involved in sports or other extracurricular activities, be aware of how much time they spend actually engaged in activity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children and adolescents should participate in 60 minutes of age-appropriate activities each day. While this may sound like a lot, many kids already meet that requirement. Age appropriate activities can also be non-structured activities like free play, a game of tag, running in the backyard and more. Learn more about making physical activity part of your child’s life from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Stay Healthy with Healthy You!
When it comes to helping your kids stay healthy, start with a Healthy You! Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi’s Healthy You! wellness benefit provides an annual wellness visit with a Network Provider for age and gender-specific health screenings and immunizations. Physicals are often required for sports or other activities, so this is an excellent time to ensure your child is healthy and developing normally for his or her age. Depending on your child’s age, they may need certain immunizations before starting school. Check with your child’s pediatrician to ensure your child’s vaccinations are up-to-date. You can find more information about the covered screenings and immunizations in the Healthy You! section of our website.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep plays a key role in a child’s health. It can affect everything from learning and academic performance to emotional development and even weight. Research shows that sleep issues in children can lead to weight gain and problems in the classroom. While a little flexibility in the summer and on weekends is okay, kids should stay close to a regular sleep schedule. School-age children and preteens ideally need 10-12 hours of sleep each night. Homework and activities can make this difficult, but it’s still important for your child to have a consistent bedtime. The National Sleep Foundation offers advice for helping kids get their z’s.
Back to school is an important time in your child’s life. Help them make the most of a new school year with a healthy start!
|1-day Sample Healthy Kid's Menu|
1⁄2 Whole-grain bagel with peanut butter
8 oz low-fat or fat-free milk
|Snack 1||Low-fat yogurt with granola and berries|
Oven baked chicken nuggets|
Sweet potato fries
Tropical fruit cup
8 oz low-fat or fat-free milk
1 snack bag of pretzels|
1 small apple
Spaghetti with meat sauce *lower sodium sauce, whole wheat spaghetti, 90% lean ground beef for added iron|
1⁄2 cup green beans
1 cup garden salad with 1 tbsp salad dressing
Small whole-wheat dinner roll
1⁄2 cup low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt