Lunches they will actually eat!!
Well its official, its Back to School time, and with that comes the challenge of providing our children with not only nourishing lunches, but lunches they will actually eat!! As a mom of 4 children, and Nutritionist I know the struggles families face when it comes to packing healthy meals at school!
One of the biggest concerns I have for school age children is the amount of processed foods that can find their way into their lunch boxes. Now, I will also share that my children’s lunches are never perfect, and yes we do purchase granola bars and the occasional treats, BUT what I am talking about is the highly processed lunches that are mostly packaged foods, full of preservatives, colouring, flavourings and frankly chemicals that will NOT help your children focus!
With so many children diagnosed with learning and attention challenges, and as a mom and Nutritionist, I always tell my clients to start with what you are packing them! If you want to learn more about foods that help them focus you can read this article here.
If you want to help them to focus, then you must understand they need stable blood sugar and clean nutrition to fuel their brain. In order for this to happen we have to begin by providing them with healthy lunchbox options. Now for the moms of picky eaters who are about to leave this article, hang tight!!! I got your back with this one!! Here’s the thing, often for our picky eaters, it has a lot to do with the flavour enhancers, sugars, and chemicals that our children’s processed foods are loaded with, not the whole foods!
Think about it this way, do you get the same taste, and physical response from eating an apple as you do eating Doritos? Children’s foods are so loaded with chemicals and sugars, their body’s start to expect the chemical reaction and intense taste every time they eat something. If the food you are providing them does not offer that chemical/sugar reaction, then it often ends up on the no list! But there is a way to help re-wire them!
The challenge is to eliminate the processed options and work with your children on what they DO want in their lunches without offering the flavoured and food colouring heavy foods. Which actually brings me to Tip #1!
Create a Lunch Box Plan, and Let them choose!
This is the first step. The old is no longer an option, so you will need a lunch box idea’s chart to help them choose the items they want in their lunches. You can use this form (above), or if you are a Pinterest mom, sit down with your child/ren and scroll through healthy lunch idea’s and make a list! This list will be one of your most valuable healthy eating tools!
If you were to work one on one with me for your own personal health goals, the fist thing I would do is help you create a menu to follow, in order to help you eat the right foods. The same thing needs to happen in your home around your children’s lunches. Have a plan, and you are way more likely to stick to it. Also when you have a list of healthy lunch options ready to go, it makes planning for your week way easier!! And it will also help you to eliminate the processed foods that can decrease their ability to focus, and offer ZERO nutritional value!!
p.s. Zero Nutrition value foods actually ROB your child’s body of its stored nutrients in order for these processed foods to be broken down and eliminated. This can lead to concerns like a weakened immune systems, and decreased nutrients available for healthy brain function. Too much processed sugar also causes blood sugar spikes, which can lead to hyperactivity, followed by a blood sugar low, which can cause lethargy and lack of focus!
Plan Your Shopping.
This is just as important as number one, and should be based on the healthy lunch choices each week. The trick is to create routine around what day you grocery shop. For our family we shop weekly and only after we have our healthy menu planned, which is done on the same day each week. Now before you feel unqualified to write your family’s menu, let me start with, A planned week will ALWAYS be a healthier week than an unplanned one! The moment you start planning for healthier, and less processed meals and snacks, and then shop for those particular foods, the sooner your entire family will start eating more of the right foods!
Click Here to Download my Menu Planning and Grocery Shopping Meal Plans!
Do weekly Prep.
If you are rolling your eyes over this one, stay with me!! This is the step most families miss, and it’s really the one that determines if little Jimmy is getting a lunch full of pre-packaged food, or a healthy lunch!! The BIGGEST challenge I see in most families when it comes to healthy eating is a total lack of time. I get it! That's why so many Canadian families are eating WAAAAAY to much processed foods and in my opinion that is a huge contributor to why we have so many issues with attention deficit disorders, immune and gut health issues, and even the big scary ones like Cancer!
EVERYTHING YOU PUT INTO YOUR BODY DETERMINES HOW IT FUNCTIONS. If we plan for the right foods, shop for the right foods, the final step is we need is to prep the right foods. Since time constraints are a real issue for busy families, I suggest a non-negotiable weekly time slot for prep time. Setting aside an hour a week, same day, preferable same time, you can create routine around getting your children’s healthy lunch set up for the week, which WILL reduce stress and time in helping them eat the right foods!
So what will you be prepping?
Here are my favourite weekly foods to prep for healthy lunches!
Ok, so I know this is a lot of information!! Take some time to revisit this article with a pen and paper and make a list of things you want to do before school starts. Or if you found this mid-year, make a list of what you know you want to improve on. Sit and make a list of healthy options your children want in their lunch, plan your lunch menu each week, shop for the items you need, and set aside 60 minutes a week to get your prep done and I promise you, you will be so proud of the healthy lunches you are sending your children to school with!!
Need some one on one support? Connect with me here and we can set a time for a telephone or zoom chat!
Alisa Herriman has been researching and teaching Nutrition since 2003. Leaving her job in the health care industry to share her passion for healthy living, Alisa travels all over Canada sharing her mission and teaching communities how to prevent and fight disease with Nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.