Healthy lunches

Anick Leclerc, registered dietitian, McMaster Children’s Hospital

Hi! I’m Anick and I am a registered dietitian and I work at McMaster Children’s Hospital. Well it’s that time of year again and if you’re like a lot of parents and guardians you’re wondering, what am I going to pack in my child’s lunch this year? Well, here are a few fun tips to keep in mind.

Don’t stress it

First of all, it’s not a competition. Even though you’ve seen beautiful lunches on social media, don’t stress it. You know your child best and you’ll include foods that they love and need. Include your child whenever possible in some decision making as well as in preparing their lunch. Have them choose a new lunchbox for the year to make it more exciting.

Pack a variety

Include foods from all food groups that fit your budget. Include grain products such as various types of breads, crackers, rice, pasta cereal bars, muffins and loaves. Include fruits and vegetables – from raw to cooked fruits and vegetables to dry – such as raisin and food bars. Include canned fruits like diced peaches or apple sauces. Include protein sources such as dairy products like yogurt cheese. Include legumes and hummus. Include lunch meat, eggs, canned tuna.

Include different types of beverages such as water, juice, milk and yogurt drinks. And remember, not all kids are great water drinkers and so if your child likes juice, pack it in there.

Include a few of their favorite foods. That could possibly include cookies, fruit gummies, chocolate chips.

More than nutrients 

Foods should not only be about meeting our nutrient needs but it should be about exploring different tastes and textures.

Be an advocate for your child. If your child needs more support at meal times or if you’re wondering about the latest policy around school lunches, don’t hesitate to bring it up.

On that note, happy back to school to everyone and have a great year!

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