Tips for healthy school lunches

Aug 3 – We all want to eat healthier, but getting kids to see the benefits can be difficult at the best of times. However, there is no better time than preparing lunches for school.

Some are adventurous eaters, but most are at least a little picky eaters, said Nicole Monier, a local nutrition and diet coach, internationally renowned chef and founder of The Mystical Kitchen. It is best to approach it little by little, so to speak.

“The first thing I would say is take a deep breath and know that this is a marathon, not a sprint,” says Monier. “At this time of year, everyone has a lot to do and you want to start off in a healthy way, but you also don’t want to beat yourself up about it.”

That’s a general principle for people trying to get healthy. Monier doesn’t believe in extreme diets or fads, instead she adheres to the Mystical Kitchen motto of “Do what you can where you are with what you have.”

An easy place to start is with plants: fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Most Americans don’t get enough of it as is. She says to start by adding some to foods she already likes and work up from there.

“For me, it’s really about having the mindset of ‘I have to find the things that work for me and my family,’ and then add a few things or try new things here or there,” Monier said. “A lot of times, parents are understandably frustrated that kids stick to chicken nuggets, butter noodles, and mac and cheese. You can help them get adventurous by trying something else.”

The more you do, the more healthy choices you’ll make naturally and comfortably. Therefore, he recommends trying to incorporate such ingredients into meals as often as possible.

When it comes to school lunches, adding nuts can be tricky due to nut allergies, but seeds can also be a good alternative. A good option for Monier is sunflower seed butter or almond butter instead of peanut butter. Using fruit jams instead of jellies and whole grain bread instead of white also makes for a healthier sandwich.

“It’s important to get the things your child likes and add something to it,” says Monier. “It’s important for kids, even if they like peanut butter and jelly, to try almond butter or SunButter. When you have different ingredients, you get different nutrients.

“Jam is better than jelly, it has more real fruit, but you also have to look at the sugar content… You just make these changes very slow and see how willing they are to try that.”

Another good option for schoolchildren is a smoothie. It’s not hard to strain lots of nutritious fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds and they can be brought to school in a thermos.

“We got stuck on the idea of ​​lunch being a sandwich or a traditional meal, but you can do anything,” Monier said.

A new trend that he has taken a liking to recently is sandwiches. It is basically a lunch made up of several smaller foods, especially snacks. They’re easy to make ahead of time in several smaller containers for on the go.

“It’s little things like low-sugar yogurt, cheese cubes, nuts, rolled ham, or turkey with mustard for dipping,” Monier said. “Humus is another good dressing to go with carrots and guacamole.”

His biggest piece of advice is to do everything you can to avoid getting frustrated if your child doesn’t accept you right away.

“Don’t make it a battle,” she says. “When my kids were little, I had the three bites rule. You had to try three bites to know if you liked something or not. You establish it as a fact in your house, that you try new things and see what we like. .”

For best results, try to involve the whole family in selecting and reviewing new foods. That way, you get more individual acceptance.

“That’s how you create healthier habits. You make things similar and then continue until you’re comfortable making the decision to eat these things that you wouldn’t have liked before,” Monier said.

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