Treats are not the occasional indulgence they once were. Kids today get about ¼ of their calories from food that offers little to no nutritional value such as: pop, chocolate, chips and fruit drinks. That leaves less room for the nutritious food they need to grow, stay healthy and feel great.
So don’t think I’m the meanie dietitian overly concerned about the ice cream after soccer practice Monday, the cupcake at the class party Tuesday, candy from a birthday party Wednesday, a few chips while watching a movie Friday night, and cookies from a community bake sale on Saturday….it’s almost constant. Am I right?!
We need to all collectively rein this in because our kids are bombarded with easy access to cheap, highly processed food that offers little nutritional value. End of rant on to…
What to do:
- Limit lunch treats to once a week and keep the portions small, a few bites.
- Making treats taboo only makes our kids crave them even more.
- Limit how often you have treats in the house. Then it’s simply not an everyday option.
- Mix and match more and less nutritious choices such as chocolate chips in trail mix.
- Come up with some better-for-you swaps.
- Instead of a chocolate bar, add some chocolate chips to homemade muffins.
- Instead of a jumbo cupcake, send a mini cupcake with fresh fruit.
- Instead of a bag of chips, mix some chips with popcorn and dry whole grain cereal.
- Instead of fruit drinks, send frozen chocolate milk in a thermos for a chocolate slushy.
Dietitian’s tip: To encourage your child to eat a wider variety of better-for-you foods, use this Make lunch time fun time resource to identify foods your child likes to eat and new ones they are willing to try.
What other better-for-you swaps can you suggest?
Do you have a question about school lunches? Email me!
See all FAQs.