We are a couple months into school time and, I don’t know about you, but I start to lose my creative inspiration with lunchboxes. At the beginning of the year, I would write love notes on napkins and cut cute faces into sandwiches. Now, my daughter is lucky when I remember to pack her water bottle! Below are five tips that I hope will help you create some healthier lunchboxes…
How we feed our children is very personal and can be a sensitive topic. There is so much info out there about food and a lot of it is contradictory. When we learn new information about food it can make us feel bad about our current eating habits. This info is not meant to come across judgmental or shaming. What works for some may not work for others. We are all on our own unique health journey!
I have a facebook group called Good, Better, Best Eats. The title comes from a way to look at our food that removes some of the guilt that goes along with it. Each food can be put in one of these categories depending on its nutrient levels. My goal is to create a balance. If breakfast falls in the good category then I try to shoot for better and best with lunch and dinner.
Do you guys know the acronym FLS or “Food Like Substances”? These are things that look like food and smell like food but are completely void of nutrients. They tend to be high in salt, sugar, unhealthy fats and artificial flavors. Things that come to mind are fruit roll ups, fruit chews, fruit cocktail, white bread, doritos, cheetos, sodas, energy drinks. Food Like Substances, or FLS, do not fit into good, better, best model because these foods don’t offer nutritional value.
Watch this interview I did with Dr. Nancy Elwartowski with Cooper Family Chiropractic to get tips on healthy lunchboxes and ways to manage all that Halloween Candy!
Here are the five tips I recommend:
- Focus on real nutrient-rich foods. I like to say avoid the CRAP. Which stands for Carbonated, Refined, Artificial and Processed foods. I refer to these foods as FLS or “Food Like Substances”. “Food Like Substances” do not fit in the good better best model. They tend to be high in sugar, salt, and saturated fats. They are high in calories and low in nutrients. This is in alignment with CLEAN eating.. Reading labels can be very helpful. If there is an ingredient on the label that you wouldn’t buy to cook with like maltodextrin or monosodium glutamate then the item is not “CLEAN”. Usually, the healthiest foods don’t have labels. Veggies and fruits!
- Try to include a healthy protein, a healthy fat, and veggie/fruit in every meal. If your family eats meat, shoot for organic pasture raised chicken or grass-fed beef. Tofu, beans, nuts, seeds, guacamole, are great sources for healthy proteins and fats etc…
- Shoot for a rainbow daily- Different colored fruits and veggies have a variety of phytonutrients that have amazing health benefits like boosting the immune system, and detoxifying to fighting cancer. Try to eat 4-5 different colored fresh fruits and veggies daily. Remember, beans count and Skittles do not:)
- Keep an eye on sugar (even natural sugar). The daily recommended amount of added sugar for a child is less than 6 teaspoons or 25 grams. Just to get an idea, Some yogurts have 18-20 g in just one mini container. You will be amazed at how many products add sugar if you read the label. Places, where sugar can hide, are tomato sauces, salad dressings, peanut butter, cereal bars, dried fruit, pudding cups. Research is now showing that sugar is a bigger influence on heart disease than fat or salt. Can suppress your immune system for up to five hours after eating it. Be mindful of what your kids are drinking. Juice is equivalent to soda as far as calories and since the fiber is taken from the fruit, it affects the blood sugar levels the same. A fun alternative is Mamma Chia Squeeze Pouches. It’s also important to know that the body responds to white flour ie pretzels/bagels etc the same as it does a piece of candy.
- Aim for organic and non-GMO when you can. EWG-Environmental Working Group provides an updated dirty dozen and clean fifteen list, annually. This is a great resource for which produce to absolutely buy organic. Strawberries and apples are the worst. Strawberries are like sponges for pesticides and apples have been found to have over 40 pesticides on one apple. There have been multiple studies done that show when an organic diet is introduced to a group of children that usually eat conventional foods, the concentration of pesticides in their urine drops to undetectable levels within days until conventional foods are reintroduced!!
Speaking of sugar, what do we do with all that Halloween candy that will be coming our way this Wednesday? First, I always like to recommend that you feed your kiddos a healthy meal before trick or treating. That way maybe they won’t gorge on their goodies. It also helps to establish and communicate to your kiddos limits for the days to follow Halloween. We give our kids a medium size ziploc that they can save some of their favorite candies and then we either sell or donate the rest. There are local dentists offices that have a candy buyback programs. Indy Dental Health, Kool Smiles. Also, you can donate your candy to soldiers through programs like Operation Gratitude. Finally, try to be a good role model and eat the candy in moderation yourself. Happy Halloween!!