We are happy to welcome Kristyn Hall back with this fantastic post for our Easy. Tasty. Healthy. Blog!
You may think that my kids are “perfect” eaters [there is no such thing], because I am a registered nutritionist. However, I too experience the everyday challenges in packing lunches for my kids. The bag of baby carrots may come home uneaten…the container of yogurt “exploded” all over other lunch items and my child ate almost nothing [and now is melting down at the end of the day because he is so hungry], the sandwich got flattened rendering it uneatable… And while I have tried the tactic of offering a new food at lunch (after all – they will be hungry, a seemingly great time to offer new foods), I am usually disappointed, and the lunch item returns home. Sigh.
Between the start and end of a student’s school life, a student may eat more than 2,400 lunches at school! (1) If you experience any challenges with packing lunches, that can lead to a lot of frustration. We parents all know the importance of nutrition for growth and development.
But there are many other factors that make the art of nourishing your child with whole food lunches tricky.
- Lack of time – Your child may have less than 15 minutes to eat their lunch at school. (2) If this is a challenge for you, you will want to keep lunches really simple. Cut up/slice fruit, use child-friendly containers that are easy to open, and pack simple-to-eat foods.
- Eating environment – Is your child easily distracted from lunch when surrounded by other kids? This is a really challenging situation if your child needs to eat lunch at school.
- Smell – Is your child sensitive to the smells of foods? You may want to minimize packing foods that have stronger smells (such as eggs, fish, some vegetables), and offer these foods at other meals in the day.
- Reaction to new foods – How easily does your child accept new foods? Children often need to see and taste new foods several times before they accept them. This rule applies to lunches too. Try out new ideas at after-school snacks or on the weekend before including them in a lunchbox.
There are many factors that we can think about as we attempt to manage the everyday challenges of feeding our child. With each year comes skills and maturity such that old lunchtime challenges may fade away, while new challenges may creep in. When it comes to lunchtime challenges, remain confident that you will find a solution in the short term. And, keep perspective that by focusing on offering a balance of whole, nourishing foods throughout the day, you are fostering the development of healthy habits not just at lunch, but also at the other meals and planned snacks in the day.
Here is a recipe that I tried for dinner one night that my kids gobbled up. Most taco recipes I have tried taste too spicy. What makes this recipe different from other taco recipes you may have made is the addition of soy sauce and maple syrup, an idea I found from the book “The Family Dinner” by Laurie David. (3) The addition of salty-tasting soy sauce and sweet maple syrup helped to balance out the flavour profile of traditional tacos. My kids loved the idea that they could customize what went on their taco. This meal easily re-purposes for the next day’s lunch.
- British Dietetic Association. Healthy Packed Lunches Food Fact Sheet. Available from https://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/PackedLunches
- Dietitians of Canada. Eat Well Play Well – At School Available from http://www.dietitians.ca/Nutrition-Resources-A-Z/Factsheets/Toddlers-and-School-Age/Eat-Well-Play-Well-At-School.aspx
- David L. The Family Dinner: Great ways to connect with your kids, one meal at a time. Grand Central Life & Style. New York. 2010.