Aug, 01
2012
kkons                

This month we’re going to look at a few reasons why it’s critical to make the extra effort to pack a lunch for your child. We’ll also equip you with some alternatives so your child is satisfied with their lunch, as well as nourished!

Why It’s Important to Pack a Lunch

School Lunch Packing 101: Challenges and Solutions

This month we’re going to look at a few reasons why it’s critical to make the extra effort to pack a lunch for your child. We’ll also equip you with some alternatives so your child is satisfied with their lunch, as well as nourished!

Why It’s Important to Pack a Lunch

A recent study found that students who regularly ate lunches bought at school were 29% more likely to be obese compared to those kids who brought their lunches from home. Unfortunately most school lunches are completely processed packaged foods that are loaded with sugar, corn and yeast, not to mention a ton of chemicals. The fact is that packing your child’s lunch every day is one of the most important things you can do for them. It is very much worth the effort!

Besides obesity, ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) are huge issues that our children are being diagnosed with. Did you know that if you take a pinch of sugar, a pinch of yeast and add milk, it will turn into alcohol in less than 60 seconds? So a breakfast of milk and cereal could be sending our kids off to school a little tipsy! And then for lunch they are usually eating some type of bread loaded with yeast, a sugary treat and chocolate milk (which is also loaded with sugar). It's no wonder the teachers are having issues with children’s behavior!

This way of eating is promoting fungus to flourish throughout the body. Fungus produces toxic chemicals that affect the brain and behavior. So, this is something to consider before running to the doc to get some medication to control behavior. First off, try changing to a Phase 1 & 2 way of eating, which incorporates real food and starves fungus. I bet you’ll be astounded at the results!

Challenge #1: “It’s too overwhelming to figure out how to pack a healthy lunch.”

Don’t get overwhelmed with the thought of changing your child’s eating habits. I know what you're thinking – I can hardly eat healthy myself; how in the world am I going to help my child? As I say in every article – perfection is not the goal. Small changes make a BIG impact. In this day in age, we are on nutrition-information overload, to say the least! Take a deep breath, keep it simple and go back to the basics. Use real, whole foods as the foundation; Phase 1 and Phase 2 is a great place to start.

I remember when I was in school, my Mom packed me a lunch 4 days a week, but I was allowed to get the school lunch one day a week. I usually picked pizza day. Yum… still a favorite of mine! While we want our kids to eat healthier, it is important to educate them so they can make good decisions on their own. You remember that kid whose parents NEVER allowed them to eat anything “unhealthy”? When they were not under their parent’s supervision, they went crazy and gorged themselves. The best thing you can do is involve your child in their food choices and tell them all the good things about whole foods. Then when they come to you saying they have a tummy ache because they ate pizza for lunch, you can help them make the connection between how certain foods impact the way they feel. This will develop a healthy relationship with food instead of a deprivation mindset, which can lead to food issues later on in life.

Challenge #2: “My child is a picky eater. They will NEVER eat this stuff!”

This is definitely the #1 reason I hear from parents on why their kids eat the way they eat. I know it can seem daunting at times, because you feel your child will starve if you don’t give in to their food requests. But remember; you are the parent, and with a little knowledge you can overcome this obstacle. Your whole family will be healthier and happier for it.

If you have a picky eater, instead of trying to do a drastic makeover with foods that are foreign to them, start out with healthier alternatives to foods they already love and accept. Research shows that it can take as many as 10 to 15 tastes before a child will learn to appreciate a new flavor. A lot of food preferences just have to do with familiarity, meaning they will eat what foods they are surrounded with and offered at home. So, don’t give up! In order for foods to be familiar in your home, you have to practice what you preach. This is definitely one of the most effective strategies for getting your kids to eat well. Research conducted by Jennifer Orlet Fisher, Ph.D., an expert on children’s eating behaviors, proves that young children learn to prefer foods that are familiar and ones presented as acceptable in their homes. Motivation for all of us adults to eat healthy!

The Sneak Tactic

I’m all about adding in extra nutrition whenever I can for myself and children. For example, adding in a handful of spinach into a smoothie. It’s completely hidden - no taste at all. But I do believe the child should know it’s in there. A problem with using the “sneak” tactic is that the child never knows they're eating a vegetable, so they never learn to accept it and like it. Think about it – if you use this method, when will the child ever learn to like spinach? They're not going to be suddenly struck by a love of vegetables when they're 18! The way you get kids to like new foods is by serving them new foods. Repeatedly. Remember, it can take up to 15 different times to try a food before a child (or adult for that matter) will accept it, and they will accept what is familiar to them.

Get the picky eater involved

Another effective way to get kids to eat different foods is to have them help. Plan out meals together, do the shopping together and prepare the lunches together. I know, I know, this isn’t always realistic, but it is quite the beneficial lesson in teaching your child how to nurture and nourish themselves. This builds self-confidence and skills to care for themselves…. unless you want them to live with you forever!

Substitution Ideas: Eat This, Not That

Here are a few Phase 1 and/or Phase 2 healthy food options to help you brainstorm lunch ideas for your little ones… and you!

Peanut Butter and Jelly. PB & J is a classic lunch favorite for kids. Let’s break it down and explore how to make it work for a Phase 1 healthy option:

Peanut Butter – Substitute: Nut and Seed Butters. Almond butter – raw almond butter is a little healthier, but roasted tastes more like peanut butter. Read the label to make sure there are no added sweeteners. Allergic to nuts? Sunbutter, which is made from sunflower seeds is a great option! As always make sure you read the label. The only Sunbutter I found that does not have added sugar is the organic version. I add a few drops of KAL liquid stevia to sweeten it and it tastes amazing.

A great trick if your little one is not thrilled with the nut or seed butters is to just add a few spoonfuls of them to their peanut butter as you are weaning them off of it. This will get them used to the taste and you can gradually increase the ratio. Before you know it they will love their healthier option!

Jelly – Substitute: Natures Hollow Sugar-free berry preserves. Usually when I see sugar-free, I run the other way, because in my opinion there’s not much worse than artificial sweeteners. But this jelly is sweetened with xylitol, which is Phase 1 friendly and a delicious option!

Bread – Substitute: Simple Flatbread Recipe - I’ve shared my Simple Flatbread recipe a few times on Know The Cause. It’s made from almond flour, and it truly is very simple to make, I promise! It freezes great; you can make a double batch so you always have some on hand. You can add any spices you want to add some pizzazz or just keep it plain and simple. Either way, it’s a great healthy bread option.

Cheese – Substitute: Hummus. Hummus is a Mediterranean dip commonly made from chickpeas (garbonzo beans), blended with tahini (ground sesame seeds, the consistency of peanut butter), olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. You can buy this pre-made at any grocery store in the deli or gourmet cheese section. Just ask, if you can’t find it, they have it everywhere. For a Phase 1, bean-free option, click here.

Of course this substitution can’t always work as a replacement for cheese, but it is delicious spread onto the Simple Flat Bread with some turkey, cucumbers, tomato and spinach. Hummus is packed with fiber, which everyone needs more of in their diet. It’s also delicious used as a dip. Kids love to dip things, so sending this off in their lunch with some cucumbers, baby carrots, bell pepper or any other veggie they like is a winning option.

Mayonnaise – Substitution: Yogurt or Avocado. For a sandwich, a mashed up avocado provides a creamy buttery taste. Avocados have healthy fat that nourishes your child’s brain, eyes, heart and skin. It’s also high in fiber. When it’s mashed up, it is sometimes more accepted by a child.

I use plain yogurt as a mayo substitute for things like tuna salad or chicken salad. It provides the creamy consistency, along with a healthy dose of gut-friendly probiotics to boost the immune system. Try tuna salad made with apples and celery. This is delicious plain or on the flatbread.

Ranch Dressing Substitute: Yogurt Ranch Dressing or Dip. I also use yogurt as a substitute for ranch dressing, which is always a favorite for kids! You can use plain Greek yogurt to make it thicker and use it for a dip. Again, kids usually accept cucumbers, baby carrots, bell pepper or any other veggie if they have something to dip it in.

“Fruit on bottom” Yogurt  - Substitution: Plain, Unsweetened Yogurt with Frozen Fruit. Add in your own vanilla and KAL liquid stevia to make your own healthy vanilla yogurt. It tastes better than any vanilla yogurt you’ll buy in the store without all added sugar! Add in your child’s favorite fruit – apples or berries are tasty! A little trick that works great is to use frozen berries. It mimics the “fruit on bottom” yogurt you buy in the store, without all the extra garbage they add to it. You can also sprinkle a few sliced almonds or pumpkin seeds on top for some crunch and healthy fat.

Some other ideas:

Apple with nut/seed butter like almond butter or Sunbutter or a handful of nuts.

Turkey Roll-up - Roll up “healthy” deli meat (Applegate Farms is a good brand), stuff with avocado or hummus.

Berries – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc. Keep it simple. Kids will eat fruits and even veggies if they are provided.

I hope these ideas open up some creative healthy options for you and your family’s lunch and snack ideas! Remember, just take one day at a time and keep building on healthy food choices. Don’t get frustrated about their lunch not being completely Phase 1 or Phase 2, just think less processed foods and more living-whole foods and you’ll really be making a difference! Check out Denni’s article about great breakfast options. We all know this is critical to get their day started off right! Here’s to a great school year and abundant health!`

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