7 Items NOT to Pack In Your Child’s Lunch

As the new school year inches closer, it’s important to start planning your child’s lunchtime menu. Your child’s lunch is very important on a number of levels – it should provide proper nutrition as well as sufficient energy to fuel your student through the rest of the day. As a parent, the best thing you can do is check the ingredients on everything you pack. Avoid saturated fats, trans fats, large amounts of sugar and sodium, and artificial ingredients

Here are 7 specific foods/drinks to avoid:

Juice Box

Before packing a juice box or pouch in your child’s lunch, check the ingredients. If they have high-fructose corn syrup, as many do, avoid packing. Healthier options will have 100 percent juice, or list water as the first ingredient and juice as the second ingredient.

Gummy Snacks/Fruit Roll Ups

One of the most popular desserts for kids, gummy snacks such as fruit roll ups are filled with sugar unhealthy sugars and artificial ingredients. Parents might be deceived by the relatively low number of calories, but don’t be confused: these packaged treats can be quite harmful.

Packaged Lunches

Sure, it’s easy to give your child a packaged lunch. They are easy, convenient and ostensibly have all the components of a wholesome lunch. But the reality is that brands like “Lunchables” are loaded with saturated fat, salts and sugars. These are hardly staples of a healthy diet.

Granola Bars

It’s easy to get fooled by granola bars. They have some healthy ingredients and are marketed as a healthy alternative to traditional junk snacks. But don’t be misled: granola bars are very high in calories, consuming a high percentage of your child’s recommended caloric intake. Remember, while the average diet is based on 2,000 calories, children only need around 1,500.

Crackers

Again, this seems like a harmless snack. But in reality, some crackers have several unhealthy ingredients, including refined flour, sugar, unhealthy fats and artificial flavoring. Opt for crackers that are made with whole grain flours. These are likely to be significantly healthier.

Packaged Chips

Cheetos, Fritos, Doritos…indeed, these chips are acceptable for the occasional indulgence. But they are not good for your child’s daily lunch box. They are loaded with sodium and other natural additives. If your child likes a crunch, opt for a whole-grain, lower-fat option.

Foods That Spoil Quickly

Milk and poultry are certainly healthy, but be mindful that these foods can spoil quite easy in a non-refrigerated lunch box. This makes them susceptible to food-borne illness. For a comprehensive list of foods that can spoil and other information, visit Foodsafety.gov.

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