Helping Kids Make Healthy Lunch Choices at School

For many children across America, school is beginning its fall semester. In addition to worrying about juggling schedules and completing homework, many parents are also worried about what their kids are eating during the school day. In recent years school lunch programs have been improving across the country. But some of the food offered in schools may not be what you’d prefer your kids eat. So what can we do to make sure our kids make healthy dietary choices during the school day?

According to Dr. William Sears of, healthy choices begin with education. The best way to educate our kids about nutrition is by setting a good example at home. Creating a culture of healthy eating from early childhood will help establish good lifestyle and food choices as they get older. The food we give them for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner will reinforce what they choose to eat when they are in the cafeteria lunch line. The more convenient fast, fried food is made available at home, the more likely a child will select similar food at school.┬áThe School Nutrition Association website has list of recommended books to help educate children about food and good nutrition. If our children know about the benefits of healthy eating and the pitfalls of unhealthy foods, they may say no to bad food choices when they’re not with you.

Parents should also be aware of their school district’s policies and how they abide by government nutritional standards. The government or school district may feel that French fries or tomato sauce on a pizza is considered a vegetable, even if many parents would disagree. It’s important to understand a school’s nutritional standards and what kids are being served. The best way to do that is to not only read the monthly menus, but to talk with the school’s principal or arrange to visit the cafeteria. ┬áNutrition is so important to growing kids and since they spend so much of their young life at school, it’s crucial to make sure they are getting the nutrition they need during the school year.

To help parents and kids make the best choices, we’ve put together this list of a few foods your kids should avoid at school and what they could have instead. Although it’s fine to enjoy that slice of pizza once in awhile, moderation is the key. To see the list, simply view the slideshow.

  • Beef with Fillers 1 of 6
    Beef with Fillers
    Schools may choose whether to use controversial beef filler made with ammonia-treated beef trimmings, according to USA Today. Find out about your school's beef before ordering hamburgers or meatloaf, or make them a meatless lunch by checking out 14 Meatless Meals for Back to School
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  • Fried Foods 2 of 6
    Fried Foods
    French fries, tater tots, or chicken tenders: Parents suggests kids avoid these sodium-rich processed foods. Have your kids opt for grilled or baked foods or if they aren't available then make these Baked Crispy Chicken Fingers with Apple Fries Photo Credit:
  • Vending Machines 3 of 6
    Vending Machines
    Many schools have eliminated vending machines. If your school still has them talk to your kids about what they should and shouldn't be buying. Get inspiration for snacks they can bring from home by checking out 5 Snacks Kids Can Make On Their Own
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  • Nachos 4 of 6
    Salt-laden chips, processed cheese sauce and beef with up to 29.4g of fat can account for more than a third of your daily fat allowance according to Time Magazine . If your kids want nachos, make them at home with ingredients you choose by checking out 8 Unique Delicious Nacho Recipes for Your Family Photo Credit:
  • Sweets 5 of 6
    Time Magazine says if your school is serving sugary sweets and desserts like ice cream, cookies or fruit in syrups, your kids may be getting more sugar than you would like . Pack fresh fruit as a sweet snack alternative or save the dessert for after dinnertime by making 11 Healthier Twists on Kids Favorite Desserts Photo Credit:
  • Flavored Milk 6 of 6
    Flavored Milk
    According to Huffington Postand food activist, Chef Jamie Oliver, chocolate milk has more sugar than many sodas. Encourage your child to bring or buy non-flavored milk and save chocolate or strawberry milk for an occasional treat. Or make this Raw Chocolate Shake

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Article Posted 4 years Ago

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