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Packing Healthy Foods for Kids (and how to get your child to eat them)

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Getting little ones to eat a healthy lunch can be a challenge, but we all know nutritious meals are incredibly important for growing children. Here are some tips and ideas from the experts:

  • What each meal should include:
    • A serving of leafy greens or yellow vegetables
      • Think: spinach, broccoli, winter squash, greens, or carrots
    • A serving of fruit, especially ones rich in vitamin C
      • Think: oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, or melon
      • Avoid or limit fruit juice (but if you do, give 100% fruit juice and dilute with water)
    • A protein source
      • Think: lean meat, fish, beans, eggs, nut butters, hummus
    • A dairy source
      • Milk, cheese, cottage cheese, low-sugar yogurt
    • A whole grain source
      • Think: whole wheat crackers, whole wheat cereals and pasta, oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice
  • How to encourage healthy eating:
    • Be a role model!
      • Eat healthy foods with your child and share your favorites with them
    • Eat meals as a family whenever possible
      • Studies show that children in families who eat more meals together, eat healthier
    • Let your child get involved in meal planning
      • Allow them to choose some of their favorite healthy options to pack
    • Avoid packing unhealthy, processed, and sugary options
      • If the option isn’t there, children will not miss it and will enjoy what has been provided

Good nutrition early in life builds a foundation for healthy food choices for a lifetime. As always, if you have questions or concerns regarding healthy eating, please contact your pediatrician.

Feel free to check out these links from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

https://services.aap.org/en/search/_context=Healthy%20Children&source-Healthychildren.org&lang=English&k=healthy%20lunch&s=

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/How-to-Get-Your-Child-to-Eat-More-Fruits-and-Veggies.aspx

https://www.choosemyplate.gov/#slideshow-1

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