Lunch is in the Bag

by Heidi McIndoo, MS

Lunch is in the Bag

Between First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign against childhood obesity and Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution there’s no shortage of programs aimed at getting America’s kids to eat healthier. These initiatives encourage parents to become more involved in their kids’ meal choices and preschool is not too early to start your child on the path to eating right.

Packing a Healthy Lunch

A study in the July 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association (now Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) indicates that more than 57% of 3- to 6-year-old children in this country spend time each week in childcare centers. Although the majority of these centers prepare and serve lunch, many centers rely on parents to provide some or all of their children’s meals. If your child attends a center where you’re required to provide them with a sack lunch from home, grab the opportunity to make it a healthy one!

What Can You Do?

Lots! Want to bump of the veggies in your child’s lunch? “Try mixing fruits and veggies together in one container, so a little sweet from the fruit rubs off on the veggies, such as sliced baby carrots mixed with a few raisins or dried cranberries,” suggests Sarah Krieger, MPH, RD, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson and a Fit4Allkids instructor. Make sure to cook the carrots, raisins and cranberries to avoid choking. Krieger recommends using variety to incorporate whole grains into your child’s lunch (and life). In addition to whole grain bread, use mini whole grain pitas, English muffins and tortillas to make sandwiches. Whole grain cereals and whole grain crackers also make for healthy lunch options.

Set an Example!

Academy spokesperson Melinda Johnson, MS, RD, says, “Children won’t eat healthier than their parents so, try to eat the way you want your children to eat.” Johnson recommends using a formula similar to what day care centers are required to utilize when creating a healthy lunch: one protein, one whole grain, one fruit, one vegetable and one milk. Once in a while, include a small treat such as a pudding cup or a slice of homemade quick bread such as banana, zucchini, or carrot.

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About the author:

Heidi McIndoo MS

Heidi McIndoo, MS




  • Cook healthy

    Involve your child in the cutting, mixing and preparation of all meals. Even a snack can be healthy.

  • Eat right

    Sit down together as a family to enjoy a wonderful meal and the opportunity to share the day's experiences with one another.

  • Shop smart

    To encourage a healthy lifestyle, get your children involved in selecting the food that will appear at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table.

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