1) The article is designed to provide parents with opportunities to help improve the school lunch system. Please provide examples of the common options served at school and how these options may not be providing children with the healthy servings they need.
The common options and probably the most popular choices for school lunch include; pizza, hot dogs, breaded/fried chicken sandwiches, or hamburgers. These options are typically made with processed enriched white flour, which has no nutrient benefits and white enriched flour contains gluten, this has become a common allergy and/or intolerance, which can interfere with concentration and school performance. The protein/meats that are typically served are processed, meaning they are higher in sodium, dyes, preservatives and harmful fats. Consuming processed meats over time can lead to long term health problems.
2) We would like to discuss how school lunches could contribute to the obesity epidemic. Please provide your thoughts/opinion about this.
School lunches tend to be very processed, due to budget and time restraints. Processed foods contain excessive preservatives, sugar, sodium, and harmful fats. Consuming processed ingredients can promote an addiction to fat, sugar and salt resulting in children not enjoying healthy foods like fruit, vegetables, and grilled or baked proteins because their taste buds are not satisfied with drinks, and foods that do not contain excessive amounts of sugar, salt, and fat. Eating this way often will result in weight gain and can make children fee l lethargic, resulting in less activity and daily calorie burn.
3) How can parents work to provide change within a school district to improve the lunch selections? (We are seeking specific actions that may work, especially when decreased school budgets make providing healthier options a challenge).
It starts with training and educating your children at home. Take them to the grocery store and restaurants and teach them how to pick healthy choices over processed foods. Schools are required to offer a healthy option that is baked or grilled and high in fruits and vegetables (it’s just not that popular amongst the kids), teaching your children to pass up the fried chicken sandwich, or hot dog and pick a salad or sandwich is the best place to start and is a life skill that could save them from obesity related diseases later on in life. Then if you want to take it to the county, consider writing a letter to your school district’s nutrition department offering healthy school lunch option ideas.
4) Part of the article will focus on lunches parents pack for their children. How can parents provide a healthier option? Please provide specific suggestions.
Always focus on color (both fruit and vegetables), high quality protein, and heart healthy fats. See the options listed below.
- Twist on PB&J (2 slices gluten free bread, 1-2 Tbs. all natural almond or cashew butter and all natural fruit spread or better yet real berries + 1 apple + 1 serving carrot sticks with 2 Tbs. hummus for dipping.
- Lettuce Wraps with nitrate free deli chicken or turkey, tomatoes, spinach, 1 oz cheese and mustard + 1 c chopped melon + and ¼ c nuts or homemade trail mix
- 1 serving almond crackers + ½ c chicken or tuna salad + 1 banana + 1 c cucumber slices with salsa or hummus for dipping
- 6-8oz Greek yogurt + ½ c all natural granola + ½ c berries and 5 celery sticks with all natural peanut/almond or cashew butter and raisins (ants on a log)
This is a preview to an article that will be featured on the Livestrong Foundation Blog.
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