You can control what goes into your child’s lunch box but not necessarily what goes into your child. Developing a positive lunch box rapport is one of the keys to improving your child’s nutritional intake.
Encourage children to bring their leftovers home. As frustrating as it may be to see an uneaten sandwich or apple, keep your comments to yourself. If you harp on it, the uneaten food will likely end up in the garbage and you will be none the wiser.
Knowledge is power. Find out why the lunch is not being eaten. Perhaps there was too much mustard on the sandwich or the tomato made it soggy. If this is the case, simply make the changes and try again.
Find out what it is about other children’s lunches that appeal to your kids. If your daughter is envious of the convenience foods, see if you can offer her some healthier alternatives. Instead of potato chips, try air-popped popcorn. For the occasional treat, there is no harm in a small portion of chips, but opt for baked instead of fried. If packaged cookies or doughnuts appeal, try our homemade cookies, granola bars and healthy muffins. Your homemade baked goods are almost certainly more nutritious than typical store-bought alternatives.
Many children complain about not having enough time to eat their lunches, but often it’s a matter of conflicting agendas. What 7-year-old boy will take the time to peel an orange when he can be outside playing?
For many children, lunch is simply a refueling stop, and if it takes too long to eat something, they simply won’t. For these kids, “picnic style” lunches composed of ready-to-go, bite-sized morsels of food often work best. Be sure to pack portable snacks, such as an apple or a homemade granola bar that can be eaten on the go.
Children who skip their lunches are often famished when they come home. If this is the case and the leftover food is still fresh, there is no reason why it cannot be eaten after school. However it’s imperative that you never force your child to eat an unfinished lunch. This tactic will likely backfire, ensuring that future leftovers end up in the garbage or, even worse, at the bottom of a locker for months! Furthermore, research tells us that children who are forced or pressured to eat have a tendency to eat less.
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