School lunches have a large influence on your child’s diet, and they have come a long way in offering healthful meals to students. Schools across the country have begun to remove unhealthful processed meats and dairy products from their menus in favor of more plant-based options. Recently, P.S. 244 in Queens, N.Y. and The Village School in Eugene, Ore., switched to a vegetarian menu while the K-12 MUSE School in Calabasas, Calif., adopted a plant-based menu for optimal sustainability and nutrition. As a parent, you may ask yourself, “How can I adopt some of these healthful practices for my children at home?” Healthful eating starts at home.
Simple tasks, such as letting your children be involved in choosing fruits and vegetables at the grocery store or helping you cook healthful meals at home, can be great teaching tools. This hands-on experience will help make them more likely to choose healthier items elsewhere. Eating habits are set in early childhood. A vegetarian diet can give your child the opportunity to experience a variety of wonderful, nutritious foods.
Try new snack ideas between meals to ensure healthful options are available:
- Chopped raw vegetables and dip
- Chunks of avocado, cucumber, or cooked sweet potato
- Breadsticks or pita chips with hummus
- Dried fruits, especially raisins
- Frozen bananas blended with a little nondairy milk
- Nuts, especially mixed with dried fruit
- Avoid beverages with added fat, salt, and sugar, such as soda and fruit punch, and avoid fried snack foods. Instead of building meals around fatty meats and cheeses, try whole grains, legumes (such as beans and peas), fruits, and vegetables seasoned with herbs, spices, and lemon juice instead of added salt.
- Use the Power Plate to plan new daily meals to maintain a healthy weight and reduce their risk of certain diseases later in life. Try new fruits and vegetables in your favorite recipes or explore new low-fat options alongside your child.
Tip of the Day
Veggies at breakfast? Who said you can’t have veggies at breakfast? Omelets and frittatas are a great way to enjoy veggies in the morning! Try adding mushrooms, peppers, spinach or tomatoes!