Everyone wants what is best for their child, but food is one of those things we get for granted and don’t think about it too much until we have to. Recently there has been a revolution about the way we think about food, but as it turns out, this revolution isn’t happening fast enough. Many parents feel like they want to give their children a healthier option when it comes to meals but there is a lack of guidance to do so. There is an initiative to encourage parents to pack healthier school lunch boxes and of course it consists of more fruit, vegetables and whole grains. This is thought to increase the cost of school lunches but that would be a small price for a healthier life.
Packing more fruit, vegetables and whole grains are better for brain development and energy levels during the day. Other recommendations from the Institute for Medicine include statements like at least half of the breads and grains should be whole grains and that no more than half of the fruit intake should be in juices. Other recommendations when preparing school lunches is when choosing vegetables focus on greens rather than potatoes.
Also keep in mind not to over pack school lunches. Even healthy food can come in excess. That is why you should follow the standard ideal quantities of calories for a school lunch. These depend according to the age of your child, as different ages need different levels of energy. For children in grade school, specifically up to the fifth grade, the ideal quantity for calories in a school lunch is 650 per meal. This means that you should divide these 650 calories into the four food groups, fruits, vegetables, proteins and grains. Healthy food is usually low on calories but not necessarily.
For children from sixth to eighth grade, the ideal quantities are just a bit higher with the number of calories to 700. Again mixing things up when packing a school lunch is crucial as you need to work with all four food groups. These 700 calories should be made up of fruits, preferably whole fruits not juices, vegetables, preferably greens, grains, preferably whole grains and heathy energizing proteins.
For children above eighth grade to grade twelve, the ideal quantity is 850 calories for healthy school lunch. Again these are the calories you need to divide among the four food group. Children from the eighth to twelfth grade require more calories and therefore energy as they are clearly going through puberty and so their goes through changes and needs all the healthy nutrition it can get.
Another thing to keep in mind is when packing a breakfast school box that the ideal quantity of calories is a bit different here, with 500, 550 and 600 calories for the three age groups. This is so because the body requires less calories in the morning than in mid-day, so lunch tends to be a bit heavier than breakfast.