What’s for lunch?

blog1Around here, school starts in mid-August, and tomorrow is the first day back. Although many schools are serving more salads and options, there are still plenty of less than healthy food options on the lunch menu. What are you to do?

Your kids learn better in school when they have balanced meals containing protein (eggs, meat, chicken, sausage, turkey), healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, butter) and vegetables and fruit. The body digests these foods slowly so the blood sugar doesn’t spike up and drop quickly, which can certainly help kids to focus on their lessons. Healthy fats help build new brain cells and help hormones work well.

You can get terrific ideas from other parents. Michelle Tam and Henry Fong have two boys, and their whole family eats paleo: no bread, no grains or pasta, no sugar, no dairy. How in the world do you send a lunch if you don’t send a sandwich? Well, they have a great blogpost about what they send in their kids’ lunchboxes , complete with pictures and contents for 18 different lunch menus. They also have links to several other blogs for more ideas.

Part of the appeal of their kids’ lunches is the LunchBots lunchbox system. These metal lunchboxes come with options for one to five sections, depending on how much variety your kids like in their meals.

blog2If you plan ahead to cook enough to have leftovers, send these with the kids for lunch. I have found several insulated containers that will keep leftovers warm until lunchtime. These work great for stews and soups and casseroles. I usually find these in the camping sections or with the picnic coolers. LunchBots also sells these.

Salads in a jar! For older kids and adults, this is portable and you can make it differently every day. Dressing goes on the bottom, then onions, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, pea pods, broccoli, cauliflower and the like. On top of that, chicken or turkey or ham, quinoa or rice, and the leafy greens on the top. I often add a few sliced almonds, sunflower seeds or other nuts. At lunchtime, turn out the whole container onto your plate and you have a crisp, dressed salad.

What to drink?
Plain, filtered water from home is best.

Put it in a steel water bottle. Stay away from bottled water as the phthalates and parabens in the plastic bottles can leach into the water and mess up your kids’ hormones. Some parents have told me that their schools prohibit kids from bringing their own water. If this applies to you, you may need to discuss your preferences and reasons with the principal or school board.

Unsweetened iced tea (made at home with filtered water)
Flavored waters?

Only if they are sweetened with stevia. Stevia is a plant with a sweet-tasting leaf. It has no calories, will not raise blood sugar, and is safe for diabetics. I highly recommend Stur , a liquid “water enhancer”. A dad developed this for his wife and kids as a safe alternative to the many other water flavoring options out there. Stevia is the sweetener, and natural flavors and colors provide color, taste and variety. Stur is available online, and locally at Health Nut Nutrition in Forest, VA.

Unsweetened coconut milk, almond milk, quinoa or oat milk, hemp milk.

These are becoming increasingly easy to find at many grocery stores. Make sure to buy the unsweetened varieties. Send it in an indestructible steel bottle.

Get your kids involved in preparing their own lunches.

They are more likely to eat the food they help to choose, and it’s one less thing you have to do. Prep and pack the night before, for less stress in the morning.

All of these ideas also work great for your lunch at work!

To your health,
Dr. Patty Powers

Patty Powers, MD, is an expert in helping kids and young people who struggle with weight, thyroid and blood sugar problems. Learn more by picking up her free report at www.drpattypowers.com