Healthy lunches: school fuel for kids
Eating a healthy lunch each day is not only important for a child’s oral and overall health, but it can help children concentrate better in school and stay alert in class.
More than 40 percent of elementary school children in the U.S. take their own food to school. Researchers studying lunchbox contents in a number of elementary schools found that none of the lunches prepared at home included servings from all five food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy), and only 27 percent had at least three food groups.1
Preparing healthy lunches with kid appeal can be tricky and take time, but it’s worth the effort. The right foods give kids enough energy for school and other activities, while helping to keep their teeth cavity-free. There are lots of convenient and healthy choices that taste great and promote good oral health and overall health.
Consider packing these healthy items to provide the fuel your child needs each day:
- Dairy products: Low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese are excellent picks with lots of calcium. Read the labels as some products aimed at kids are high in fat and sugar.
- Protein: Lean roast beef, turkey, chicken and cheese are good sandwich options. Use whole grain bread, and try adding some lettuce and tomato.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables: Grapes, apple chunks, orange section, celery and baby carrots are great additions to a lunchbox.
- Beverages: Water is a great choice for lunch, as is low-fat milk. Avoid soda pop and juice drinks, as they contain lots of sugar and can be high in calories.
This information is available for download as an oral health flyer.
1 Hubbard K, Must A, Eliasziw M, Folta S, Goldberg J, “What’s in Children’s Backpacks: Foods Brought from Home,” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2014), web.