As back to school season begins, it’s important for parents to monitor what their children will be eating throughout the day. While you may not be able to control every aspect of what foods your child is exposed to, these tips can help you monitor your child’s nutrition and dietary intake.
Review The Lunch Menu
The National School Lunch Program requires that the meals offered in most schools must have a certain number of calories, fat, saturated fat, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. Its surprising to know that foods such as pizza, fried foods, and even ice cream can fit into these suggestions.
Sit down with your child and and review the weekly or monthly lunch menu. Discuss what foods your child likes and what their natural choices are, then make suggestions and adjustments accordingly to come to a collective decision about what your child will choose in the cafeteria.
Pack Your Child’s Lunch
A method to tightly regulate what your child eats is by simply packing your child’s lunch for them. Packing their lunch will allow you to avoid the high-calorie options and convenience foods around campus. Keep in mind that your child may not have access to a fridge so no perishable and dairy free goods will be the likely choice for most packed lunches. Foods like wraps, sandwiches, almonds, fruit and veggies will be simple and easy meals that can last unrefrigerated until lunch time.
Set an Example
Your child will typically follow the eating patterns that are set in the home. By cooking and eating clean nutrient dense foods at home, you will set a positive example for your child to follow while at school in the cafeteria. When children become accustomed to eating fruits, vegetables and lean proteins they will be much more likely to make healthier decisions and avoid processed foods.
Learn the policies and options available for your children to during snack breaks. What types of snacks are permitted and does the school allow for outside vendors or vending machines to be on campus? Does the school allos for snacking in class? Knowing these answers will help you to better understand snack options available at your child’s school will allow you to avoid giving your child opportunity to overeat or make unhealthy purchases while at school. If the snack options are truly poor they consider joining the school board or parent teacher association to promote proper nutrition and diet.