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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Back-to-School: The Lunch Learning Curve

Teach your kids to pack mostly "real" food. Foods with no ingredient labels should be in their lunch sack as well as some with very short ingredient labels (cheese, popcorn, fruits, veggies).  But to make this work in the real world, you'll need to involve your kids in some prep before its time to pack the lunch. 

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One of my favorite lunch and snack staples today is SunButter.  I like working with SunButter because not only is it delicious, but it is US grown sunflower butter that is free from the top eight food allergens – a few of which are peanuts, tree nuts and soy.  So whether you’ve got allergies within your family, or friends or classmates with allergies, school-friendly SunButter is a great option for sandwiches and other lunch and snack ideas.  One of the great things about SunButter is that you get just as much protein as other nut butters like almond and peanut, but with more micronutrients like vitamin E, zinc, iron and magnesium with less saturated fat.  You can find it at any traditional grocery store chain nationwide and will soon be found at local buying clubs here in Utah.  So beyond a go-to sandwich for lunch, consider a buildable lunch with some fun things to dip in SunButter.  Sometimes all it takes to reignite your child’s interest in good nutrition is upping the fun factor by making it hands-on. 
Keep balance in mind. Use the lunch-packing routine to reinforce the goal of eating more produce by making half plants, including a grain and some protein.  And remember that a treat by it’s inherent nature is occasional.  If your kiddos are dying for some convenience foods, portion carefully, and pair it healthful produce that appeals to your child specifically.  It is so key to involve your kids in the planning of what goes into that lunch sack, or else you’ll just be enriching the landfill. 

Don’t let social media lead you to be a harsh critic.  There are loads of great images and ideas  out there on social media, but lets be realistic.  Your child doesn’t need to be post-worthy.  You’re better served by helping them be involved in the selection and preparation, and a fun, supportive note once in a while doesn’t hurt a bit.  Think how fun it would be to go a bit retro and put a comic strip in their lunch once in a while?  While a note of encouragement and love was perfect for my daughter, my son would have definitely preferred a little Calvin and Hobbs or Far Side tucked under his grapes. 

Back to school is a time for your kids to learn all sorts of things, one of which should be how to pack a decent lunch, so don’t hesitate to allow them that responsibility.

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