Did you know that kids typically get about 30 to 50 percent of their calories while at school?
While parents likely know what children are having at breakfast and dinner, children have a substantial amount of freedom to make their own food decisions at school. These choices are important because the food choices students make today can have a big influence in shaping their future.
This year, parents will be happy to know that there are nutritious changes taking place in the lunch line.
Here are some easy tips parents can teach their children to help them remember to make the best school lunch choices:
- Rethink your drink: Milk, including flavored milk, provides nine essential nutrients that are important for kids’ growth and development. This year, cafeterias across the country are serving great-tasting flavored milk with fewer calories and less added sugar than in the past. Due to reformulations by the milk industry, on average, school chocolate milk is projected to have just 31 calories more than white milk and 38 percent less added sugar than five years ago. Flavored milk strikes the perfect balance between good nutrition and good fun, versus choosing drinks with no nutritional value.
- Pass with flying colors: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new healthy MyPlate icon shows the importance of filling half your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables. Parents will be pleased to know schools are serving more fruits and vegetables too, especially nutrient-rich leafy greens and orange vegetables.
- Subtract the salt: Schools cafeterias are also lessening the amount of sodium in school meals by cutting out processed items and incorporating fresh foods. Parents can also help kids adjust their taste buds to this change at home by cutting back on salt little by little, which includes things such as condiments and canned or frozen meals.
- Try something new: Many schools are introducing whole grains in unexpected places, such as pizza. While it might look a little different, let your child know it still tastes just as yummy. (We don’t have to let them know it’s better for them quite yet!)
Teach your children healthy habits they can incorporate into every meal of the day. And remember, nutritious food doesn’t have to be boring!