Healthy School Lunches: What if a School Lunch is the Only Option?

A teenage girl in overalls sits alone at a lunch table. Her head is in her hand and she is glumly looking at her school lunch.

This week, lead health coach at Living Healthier, Natalie is sharing some of her experiences with school lunches. Read on to learn more about Natalie’s tips for staying healthy no matter what’s for lunch!

A teenage girl in overalls sits alone at a lunch table. Her head is in her hand and she is glumly looking at her school lunch.

My Kid’s School Doesn’t Serve Healthy School Lunches

It’s easier for parents to teach their children to eat healthy foods if the schools they attend serve healthy portions of non-starchy vegetables, such as green beans, or broccoli. But what do parents do when the only “vegetables” served are french fries or red sauce on a cheese pizza? It is challenging for a child to eat healthy if there are no healthy foods. And imagine how hard it is for a little person to resist a cheese pizza! If this situation sounds familiar, then you and I are just a couple of thousands of parents that deal with this on a daily basis. Living Healthier, our free health coaching hotline has some tips to help your kiddos eat and stay healthy no matter what is served in the cafeteria.

 

How to Eat Healthy Even if a School Lunch is Unhealthy

If you can, packing a lunch is one of the best ways to ensure a full, balanced meal. MyPlate has lots of healthy meal and snack ideas to inspire your healthy school lunches! If your child struggles with trading their lunch, include them in the process of choosing and making their lunch. Or if possible, work with your child’s teacher or lunch monitor, to use a rewards system. For every home-brought meal they eat, they will get a stamp or sticker from the supervising adult. After 10 stickers they can trade their card in for a prize! If your child is just not finishing their heathy home lunch, consider packing them smaller snack-sized portions and including healthy snacks for the ride home instead.

 

What if a School Lunch is the Only Option?

We know it is not possible for every family to pack a lunch for their kids. Or it may not be possible to pack one every day. If this is your case, then the best way to stay healthy is to make adjustments to your home routine. These will make your entire family healthier and set a great example for your kids! Use these ideas to encourage healthy lifestyles for your entire family!

  1. Add extra physical activity to your daily routine — Adding an hour or so of vigorous activity will burn off any extra calories your child is getting. This could be a family walk or playing a favorite game, like soccer or tag with your kids.
  2. Serve vegetables at dinner — Focus on eating the rainbow at dinner by including plenty of non-starchy vegetables, like carrots, green beans, or a salad. Add some lean protein, like chicken, and remove carbs. This makes a healthy dinner that makes up for any extra carbohydrates kids consumed at lunch
  3. Talk to Your Kids About Healthy Choices — Just talking to your children about what healthy looks like can encourage them to make better choices! MyPlate has lots of resources to start your conversation including videos, quizzes you can take together, and more!
Lead health coach Natlalie, wears a pink shirt and stands in front a flowering tree

Lead Health Coach, Natalie

Do you want ideas for healthy school lunches you can pack? Or someone to hold you accountable for eating healthier at home? The health coaches are here for you! Our free, bilingual, and confidential health coaching hotline can provide resources and support. Plus, right now if you complete three coaching sessions, you’ll get a free $25 HEB gift card, which can go a long way in healthy meals! Get started here: http://bit.ly/2MfIjNm