-Involve your child in the selection and preparation of school lunches. Studies show this enhances healthful eating while saving you time and equipping your child with the “hands on” skills they need to become more independent eaters.
-Recognize that color and variety incite eating behavior and use this to your advantage. Instead of a bag of baby carrots, add in some broccoli florets, bell pepper strips or any other colorful veggies your child enjoys.
-Whole fruit frequently ends up in the trash. Instead, cut whole fruit up into finger-friendly chunks or skewer a colorful medley of fresh fruit to create a fruit kabob. (Be sure to snap off the sharp ends for safety.) To keep cut up fresh fruit from browning, spritz it with a little lemon or lime.
-Kids love fun containers. Take your child to the local dollar store and let them choose a variety of colorful and interesting containers. Altoid tins are great for nuts and dried fruit.
-Dipping is fun! Pair cut-up fresh veggies or whole grain tortilla chips, crackers or brown rice cakes with a healthy dip. Great options include individual containers of hummus, guacamole, salsa mixed with plain yogurt, or low-fat ranch dressing. Small containers of peanut butter or yogurt are a yummy “dip” for sliced apples or pears.
-Be as inventive and creative as possible in how foods are presented. Alternate layers of dried cereal, fruit and plain yogurt to create a lively parfait. Make a fruit or veggie kabob. Use cookie cutters to cut sandwiches into fun shapes. Go breadless and roll up slices of deli meat stuffed with shredded cheese and chopped veggies.
-Throw in the occasional “love note.” This heartwarming surprise can reduce your child’s stress and help them cultivate a more positive relationship with their foods.
-For safety, always pack your child’s lunch in an insulated lunch bag or box with a cooler pack.
-And of course, keep the junk food out! If it’s not there it’s not an option.
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