It’s Labor Day…so work on the lunchbox

How is your child learning to eat? Soda with dinner? Sugary cereal for breakfast? Processed foods for lunch?

How about a Candyland lunchbox? Annie fills it with turkey on wheat, fruit, and celery.

How about a vintage Candyland lunchbox? Annie, a high school senior shown here after a sports rally, fills it with turkey on wheat, celery and fruit.

What goes in to your child’s lunchbox now can set the tone for mealtime choices down the road. It’s something to pay attention to, especially with obesity rates on the rise.

Phoenix Children’s Hospital Pediatric Dietitian Shannon Kent offers tips on how to make lunch-packing easier and to help kids to make healthy choices.

Share the work. Enlist kids to help pack their own lunches. Not only does the process go by faster, but it allows parents to take the time to show them what is important to eat.

Pack lunch before bedtime. Get in the routine of spending just ten minutes before bed doing this and mornings will surely run more smoothly.

Make a list. Ask your kids what fruits, veggies and proteins they want to eat. Doing this not only involves them in the process of choosing healthy foods, but may also get them to try new fruits and veggies when they’re ready for something new. Making a list also organizes grocery trips and ensures neither of you waste money on food that isn’t liked and therefore not eaten.

Appropriate for appetite. Having a realistic idea of portion sizes is the best way to prevent overeating and obesity in kids. Help kids to visually measure how much they consume at each meal. Protein should be the size of their palm while fruits, veggies and grain portions the size of their fist.

Remember the water. Water also happens to be the main ingredient in juice.  Try diluting a favorite juice with half water and including that in with lunch.  Send a bottle of water to school in a reusable, BPA free container as well as a healthy beverage in the lunch box.

Take control of treats. Exercise restraint with the amount of chips, cookies and candy children eat. Limit treat consumption to twice a day, period. It’s not only healthier but also saves money.

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