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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Back to School: Meals that Support

By Jacquie Donohue, dietetic intern — University of Minnesota – The Emily Program.
Reviewed by Hannah Jastram, registered dietitian — Center for Family Development. 

As a teenager, I thought lunch was about laughing with my friends and taking a break from school. I really didn't know how important the food in my lunch was for my body and how it could help me do well in school. Had I known this, I may have made smarter choices when it came to what I packed or which hot lunch line I chose. This information from can help you be sure your children are starting their school year off right.

Why a healthy lunch?
  • Helps children stay alert and focused throughout the school day
  • Children who are nourished will do better in school
  • Teaches good habits that children can take into adulthood
  • Reduces risk for certain diseases including diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure which will keep them out of the doctor's office
What is a healthy lunch?
  • Vegetables and fruits that are a variety of colors such as carrots, tomatoes, green beans, apples and oranges
  • Lean protein such as turkey, chicken, beans, nuts and seafood
  • Whole grains such as brown rice, whole grain pasta and bread
  • Low-fat dairy products or calcium-fortified soy beverages
If I could tell my teenage self one thing about school lunch, it would be to choose a diet full of variety and full of nutrition. Maybe I could have focused better in classes and gotten onto the honor roll a few times!

Goal for this month
Pick one to work on and tell us in the comments when you've reached it:
  • Discuss the school lunch menu before your child leaves for the day.
  • Ask your child what options they will be choosing in order to leave the conversation open for follow-up after school.
  • Use MyPlate to plan meals at home that are similar to what they are served at school.

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