The lunchbox could be just as important as the classroom when it comes to setting kids up to be healthy, happy adults.
With back-to-school approaching, professor Gordon Zello with the University of Saskatchewan’s department of pharmacy and nutrition encouraged parents to include kids in planning healthy lunches.
“If you think about, right now, kids going out and buying school supplies with their parents or guardians — why not do food the same way?”
He said getting kids engaged can be a challenge, but a little creativity can help.
“You can even make it a little bit of a game. Maybe do coloured foods, so go out and pick different coloured foods. If you do that, you’re going to get a pretty good balance.”
As for what foods to pick, Zello said fruits, vegetables, dairy and lean meats were all good, while processed foods and sugary beverages were best avoided. He also stressed simplicity, saying there’s no need for a kid’s school lunch to be Instagram-worthy.
“I did go on the web and just looked at some of the recipes they were suggesting for child lunches and I’m going: ‘man, I don’t have time to do that,'” he said.
With the rise of obesity and other conditions tied to unhealthy eating, Zello said he hoped more kids -and parents- would learn the life skills to shop for and prepare healthier meals.
“We’re seeing a lot of teenagers with type 2 diabetes, which usually is thought of as being a middle-age or older-age onset (disease).”
With summer activities wrapping up, Zello said it was also important for parents to make sure kids are still finding ways to keep moving.
“When we’re talking nutrition, we’re also talking lifestyle. So I think one of the things one has to also consider when kids are going back-to-school is changes in activity,” he said.