Healthy Lunches Help Fuel Active, Smart Children

Cara Rosenbloom, Registered Dietitian & mom

What’s the best way to help your children get good grades and have energy for long afternoons at school? Pack a healthy lunch! Here are some tips.

Excel at school

When children eat a well-balanced lunch, it’s easier for them to concentrate at school and have energy for afternoon activities. A nutrient-sparse lunch will make them more likely to reach for unhealthy recess snacks, when energy is low and sugar cravings kick in. This could lead to weight gain and health problems down the road.

Studies show than in addition to providing energy, healthy lunches filled with whole grains, vegetables, fruit and protein can lead to better grades and higher scores on standardized tests, especially when compared with children eating high-fat, salty lunches.

Carbohydrate-containing foods, such as whole grain wheat, corn and soybeans, are crucial for brain health. The Grain Product food group in Canada’s Food Guide provides carbohydrates to the bloodstream to fuel the mitochondrial furnaces responsible for your child’s brain power.

Lunches that kids love

The healthiest carbohydrates include whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans. They promote good health by delivering vitamins, minerals and fibre, which are required for normal growth and development. Grab that lunchbox and pack meals made with four food groups:

  • Vegetables and fruit
  • Grain Products
  • Milk and alternatives
  • Meat and alternatives

Most kids love sandwiches, which are a great way to ensure they get a serving of Grain Products, a staple food group in Canada’s Food Guide, and carb-rich brain fuel. Stack protein and vegetables on different shapes and sizes of breads. Use cookie-cutters to cut sandwiches into children’s favourite shapes.

Pack whole grain crackers with cheese, or make modern ants-on-a-log with soy butter and currants on celery to harness brain power. Visit www.healthygrainsinstitute.ca for more ideas.

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