Healthy Snack and Lunch Ideas: Teaching Kids to Eat Healthy
When kids see their parents and other adults eating healthy, it encourages them to do the same.
- According to the CDC, during the last 3 decades, the prevalence of obesity has tripled among persons aged 6–19 years.
- The CDC also states that the home environment and parental influence are strongly correlated with youth eating behaviors.
- HelpGuide.org goes further to say that “Healthy eating can stabilize children’s energy, sharpen their minds, and even out their moods.”
Focusing on an active lifestyle and healthier eating are important steps in combating childhood obesity.
And here’s another reason to teach kids better nutrition. Research shows that children who eat well perform better in school than kids with poor diets.
Try these activities with your kids:
- Let kids help choose foods. Take them shopping with you and ask them to choose three different vegetables from the fresh produce aisle. For younger children, you can even make it an educational adventure by asking them to choose three different colored vegetables.
- Prepare small bites. Kids of all ages (and adults) love mini-portions these days. Cut celery, carrots, and cucumbers into small pieces. Do the same with fruit. Kids are more likely to eat vegetables and fruit when it’s small and easily accessible. Keep a bowl of chopped fruits and veggies on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.
- Visit a local farmer’s market. Allowing kids to experience the fun of the market can encourage healthier eating. The market atmosphere is contagious. You can also visit a local orchard where kids pick their own apples, peaches, and other fruits.
- Pack lunches in clear, sectioned containers so kids can see the colors and textures of the food. It makes them more appealing and enticing.
- Engage kids in food preparation. Teach them to prepare foods. Older kids can help chop vegetables and even younger kids enjoy helping in the kitchen. They are more likely to enjoy their food if they help with preparation.
- Plant a small garden. Teaching kids where food comes from is a great way to encourage healthier eating. When they see cucumbers, tomatoes, squash and other vegetables grow in their own space; they get excited about preparing them to eat. Container garden or raised-bed gardening only takes a small space too.
Snack Ideas for After School (or Anytime!)
Snacks can be traditional like fruits. But snacks can also be a sandwich or even a bowl of cereal. Think of nutritious foods that kids enjoy and go for it!
- Thin slices of crunchy apples with a thin spread of peanut butter.
- Celery sticks with peanut butter and a few raisins on top (or 4-5 chocolate chips)
- Hummus and whole-wheat crackers with slices of apple.
- Vanilla yogurt with fresh berries and a drizzle of local honey.
- Small bite-sized pieces of fruit.
- Small pieces of carrot and celery sticks with a light ranch dipping sauce.
- A bowl of fortified cereal with milk.
- ½ turkey and cheese sandwich with a glass of milk.
- Graham crackers with peanut butter spread and a few chocolate chips.
- A grilled cheese sandwich on whole-wheat bread – use shredded cheese, add some finely chopped fresh spinach, and grill in a skillet or Panini pan. Sice into long thin strips.
Pack a nutritious lunch and include a bottle of water or some low-fat milk with each entrée.
- Try a delicious turkey pinwheel rolled in a whole-wheat tortilla with lettuce and some grated cheese, small bites of celery/carrots with homemade light ranch dip, and thinly sliced oranges (leave the rind on for ease in packing and handling!).
- Or create a peanut butter/banana spread by finely mashing banana into the peanut butter. Spread it on mini whole-wheat pita rounds and top with a small amount of naturally sweetened blueberry jelly. Add a side of celery sticks and carrots with dipping sauce, and toss in a handful of purple and green grapes.
These are just some ideas to get you started on healthier school lunches and snacks. Planning ahead and purchasing fresh, wholesome foods to start with is the key to healthy eating.
And if you don’t have time to prepare nutritious lunches yourself each morning, Green Monkey School Lunches is always happy to help!
We deliver to some local schools and many of our lunch options are available through RELAY Foods for delivery right along with your RELAY orders each week. You can also place orders and stop by our Quiocassin Road kitchen to pick them up at your convenience.
Make a difference in how kids eat today and you’ll make a difference in how they eat as adults too. Help stop childhood obesity and promote healthy, active living for longer, better quality living for everyone.
Make it a family affair!