Healthy Lunch Boxes

Start the new year off right with simple, healthy lunch options.

As parents start preparing for a new school year, healthy foods should be on the back to school purchase list. Why? Well, among other things:

But that is just the tip of the iceberg. We often think that obesity is an issue related to poor nutrition, but poor nutrition can be the cause of many ails that you don't even realize, including hyperactivity, ADD, diabetes, eczema, and depression just to name a few.

Furthermore, arterial plaque, liver damage, and type II diabetes do not develop overnight. We are what we eat - literally - and, consequences will show up eventually. So, while you have a say in what they're eating, give them healthy options, and teach them habits now to last them a long and healthy lifetime.

Unfortunately, even things that are touted as 'healthy' are not. Bananna muffins, for example, provided in the lunchroom are may sound good, but are laden with sugar and high fructose corn syrup.  

Such is also the case for many of the items believed to be healthy options for our childrens' lunchboxes. Here are some common lunchbox items and healthy alternatives.

  • Avoid Snackables and packaged foods "Cracker Stacker Turkey and American Cheese" Lunchable logs in at 350 calories, with 15g of fat, 6 of which is saturated, 25g of sugar, and almost no nutrition. Plus the meat is the cheap kind most likely laden with hormones, antibiotics, and lots of chemical preservatives. You can view nutrition content for all Lunchables here.  
  • Trade in Fruit Roll Ups which are full of high fructose corn syrup for "Fruit Rollups, SIMPLY" which are 95% fruit and have no added sugars! , and all carry them.
  • Choose PBJ over Deli Meat.  PBJ's are a staple in our household, but only the Peanut Butter whose ingredients list is as follows: peanuts, salt.  This PB requires stirring before use, but it's well worth it to avoid excess sugar and fillers. As for the Jellly, Polimer's All Fruit is the bomb. 100% fruit; no added sugar and it's as sweet as can be. 

Why not deli-meat? Most meat in this country is jam-packed with hormones, steroids, and antibiotics while the animal is living.  Then when it is processed, fillers and preservatives are added.  If you have no access (or not enough money) to buy meats labeled "free range" or "no antibiotics or hormones", then at least minimize how many times per week you pack your child a deli meat sandwich. I would opt to eliminate them all together, but if your kid loves them, at least cut back on how often you pack them.

That brings us to bread. What you want to look for is the fiber/sugar/protien contents in bread. Your kids will not starve if you stop using the cheap white bread. If they are raised with the whole wheat or whole grain breads, they will like said breads. My personal favorite line is Arnold. Shoprite usually has Arnold breads on sale every-other-week. When it comes to fiber-to-sugar-to-protein ratios, Arnold is among the best. Cut the crusts and the kids will think they're royalty while you give them the fiber and grains they need. 

You can probably guess what I think about chips.  They have no nutrional value whatsoever and are loaded with calories and fats. Baked chips lessen the calories and fat, but be careful because many contain MSG to enhance the flavor. This can have a miriad of negative side effects.  

Dr. Russell L. Blaylock M.D. published the book Excitotoxins:The Taste that Kills in which he cites studies where MSG was found to produce brain lesions, obesity, and brain damage, (Resource for Life.com). 

Veggies and Dip: this is actually a great lunch box item.  Carrots, blanched broccoli or cauliflower, cucumbers, string beans - you name it.  Whatever your kid will eat, pack it! One caution: kids love veggies and ranch dressing, but most ranch has MSG. However, Neuman's Own and organic brands do not. As for flavor, I give Neuman's a kid-approved five stars.  Acme and Superfresh carry it.  Unvfortunately, Shoprite does not.  

Fruit: Love it. The sugar in fruit carries with it nutrients and fiber in a digestable form. Fresh is best of course, but if you buy fruit snack cups, read the label. Many of these contain added sugars or are packed in 'syrup' - which is really unnecessary, as the fruit is plenty sweet on its own, and far healthier when packed in fruit juice or water. Applesauce is also a great choice - but again, go for the brands labeled, "no added sugars." 

You may be saying, "My kid eats all the 'wrong' stuff and is just fine" But, we cannot see the gradual plaque buildup in arteries, or cell deterioration, or the effect on the production of neuro transmitters or other problems.  

You want the best education for your kids - empower them to fulfill their potential by feeding them healthy foods.  

Cha August 31, 2011 at 12:18 PM
Great article! Lunchables shouldn't even be considered food. I was horrified when I saw how many families at my sons school found them to be an acceptable lunch.
Kelly Lester (EasyLunchboxes) September 01, 2011 at 01:01 PM
Terrific article! Store bought Lunchables are eye-appealing but not a great choice. However, if you make them healthy at home, voila! Happy kids, happy parents. My EasyLunchbox compartmentalized containers make it easy: http://bit.ly/dIPtv1
Carol Haslam September 04, 2011 at 01:06 AM
Thanks Ladies. I hope that education helps people make better choices. Labels are so deceiving until we read the fine print or do research beyond the label. Mentioning "something you read in an article" can be a bridge to talking to people about a topic like this without coming across as a know it all or judgmental. NAMASTE
jane October 23, 2011 at 03:36 PM
It's "Newman's Own" not "Neuman's Own." Oh, and Shoprite carries Newman's Own salad dressings - I have bought them there many times. Maybe you should check your facts.
Carol Haslam October 23, 2011 at 07:25 PM
Hello Jane, Thanks for the spell check. As for the "fact check" ShopRite does not cary Newman's Own Ranch dressing, though it carries many other Newman's Own selections. Since ShopRite is my personal local store of choice, I wish they DID carry it.


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