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Healthy Lunches

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Healthy Lunches

Are you sometimes faced with the decision between taking a chance on a slice of pizza or picking up a corner-store burrito to stuff into your kidâ??s lunch bag? Instead of relying on those fast-food lunches loaded with calories and fat, hereâ??s how you can pack a healthy on-the-go lunch in just minutes.

Are you sometimes faced with the decision between taking a chance on a slice of pizza or picking up a corner-store burrito to stuff into your kid’s lunch bag? Instead of relying on those fast-food lunches loaded with calories and fat, here’s how you can pack a healthy on-the-go lunch in just minutes.

Packing a lunch that is nutritious and delicious can be challenging, but it is one of the most effective ways to ensure good nutrition when our kids are away from home. And contrary to popular belief, packing a lunch doesn’t need to be time-consuming or difficult. A few simple steps are all it takes.

Plan ahead. Plan a weekly menu so you know what foods to buy when you go grocery shopping. It’s also a good idea to get your kids involved in the menu planning so they will be interested in the foods they helped choose.

Make lunches creative. The old-fashioned lunch box with a sandwich, fruit, and drink box can be boring. Put on your creative hat and make it interesting.

Snack attacks. Do away with cookies and chips to make room for healthier snacks such as whole grain crackers with low-fat cheese or hummus, whole grain cereals, trail mixes with dried fruit and nuts, or yogourt with fruit.

Improvise with leftovers. Chances are if you liked it the night before, you will like it the next day too. Hearty warm meals using a combination of a protein (meat, poultry, or fish), carbohydrates (wheat pasta, brown rice, or sweet potatoes), and vegetables make the perfect lunch.

Fast-Food Lunches

Did you know that lunch should provide one-third of your nutrition needs for the day? Dietitians of Canada estimates that roughly one-third of your child's daily food intake occurs during school hours. With the increased reliance on fast food lunches, many of us are taking in the calories and fat, but leaving behind all the nutrition.

To make matters worse, larger portions have become the norm in restaurants. In a recent study published in Obesity Research (2004), it was found that increasing the size of the entr?resulted in increased calorie intake. The study also showed that most participants didn’t even notice a change in portion size, even when they were given up to 50 percent more food.

Consider These High-Calorie and Fat-Laden Findings from McDonalds:

Big Mac–530 calories, 29 g fat
Large Fries–570 calories, 28 g fat
Bacon Ranch Salad with Crispy Chicken and Ranch Dressing–530 calories, 35 g fat

Creative Lunch Ideas

Use whole wheat wraps or pitas instead of bread for sandwiches.

Mix proteins together such as a variety of cold cuts or low-fat cheese and beans for different flavoured sandwich fillings.

Change up your regular tuna salad by adding vegetables such as chopped broccoli, carrots, or celery.

Accompany vegetables with dips such as low-fat dressings or hummus.

Introduce variety by trying sliced peppers and cherry tomatoes and seasonal fruits such as berries, cherries, grapes, and peaches.

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